February 22, 2009
Review - " The International " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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The International (Sony Pictures)
Directed By: Tom Tykwer
Starring : Clive Owen, Naoni Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Brian F O'Byrne
Interpole Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District
Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) are determined to bring to justice one
of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering meriad and reprehensible
illegal activities, Salinger and Whitman follow the money from Berlin to Milan to
New York to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase accross the
globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as their targets will
stop at nothing, even murder, to continue financing terror and war. The
Internatioonal was shot on locationin Germany and throughout Europe.
Director Tim Tykwer does a decent job and for a while "The International"
crackles with suspense but soon the interesting idea posed by the script just
fizzles out. story starts out well, catching our attention with the bank's deceptive
and shady practices and building up a healthy dose of paranoia as well. The
problem is the screenplay then lets itself off far too easily. Instead of focusing
on how the bank creates slaves-to-debt and how the whole process works, the
movie just vaguely and complicatedly brushes over those issues in favor of
lazy, generic plotting. Salinger and Whitman soon find that their best option is
pinning a murder on IBBC, just you would think a major bank could do better
than hiring such an easily track-able killer. And where the movie really goes
wrong is the conclusion, which doesn't go into how the bank is actually taken down as much as it just satisfies the audience's
need for bloodlust. You can tell that no one knew how to end this.
Casting Clive Owen was a good idea. He brings a determined, serious demeanor to Salinger though with the type of roles he
has played recently. He seems like a natural for it. The rest of the cast struggles with poor character development. Naomi
Watts gets a role so useless that it could have easily been played by a mannequin. Armin Mueller-Stahl shows up as a
former communist whose lost his way and now works with the bank as a consultant of some kind. He gets one well written
scene, going mano-a-mano with Owen but otherwise not that many impressions are made by the cast.
"Fiction has to make sense." Wilhelm Wexler (Armin Mueller Stahl in The International). It should but doesn't apply to The
International, an underwhelming thriller whose biggest draw is some fine photography of some fine world cities such as
Milan, Berlin, Luxembourg, and New York. The movie also features some action scenes (but certainly not many), such as an
extremely action-packed gunfight - this definitely ranks up there for best shooting scenes ever. This time we get a gigantic
shoot-out at the Guggenheim museum in New York. What leads up to this exactly I wont say, not because I would be too
spoiling but because it's almost inconsequential. From the lead-up to this, which is just suspenseful enough, all the way
through the execution of all of these rounds fired off, hundreds and hundreds of bullets in the walls of one of the most
well-renown museums in the world, it is such a remarkable sequence that it stands up to some of the best I've seen in years.
The International is a perfect example of how a film comes so close to grasping its potential but ultimately falls below what it
could've been. Most of the fundamentals are present: an interesting premise, a solid story, a couple note-worthy stars and
so forth. However, what holds this film back is that the finished package simply feels uneven with the good aspects only
occasionally popping up amidst the mostly sub-par experience.
There are times, however, that the film manages to shine and show what it'd be like if every scene was handled as well. The
one major action scene in the middle of the film is probably one of the better shot and more entertaining action scenes I've
seen recently. There are also a few more suspense-oriented scenes that help make things interesting here and there, which
also break up the seeming monotony. Unfortunately, these scenes are too few and far between to make much of an impact
on the film overall.
All told, The International is a film that shows so many signs of great potential but only occasionally realizes these parts
well enough. If you're interested in the film's plot and how it unfolds you might find a solid watch with The International,
but be ready for a rather slow-paced film. This is far from a bad film, yet the well-executed scenes are too few and far
between to make it worthy of an honest recommendation.
The biggest gripe I had about
the movie was the ending
which, while giving closure in
the form of newspaper articles
flashing across the screen
during the early credits, seems
a bit tinkered together and
leaves you with the impression
that they had to cut the movie
short, or ran out of ideas.
You will have to walk out which
is a shame. A few naked
breasts might have helped
save this film.