Saturday, June 27, 2009

The International

"The International" is a poorly-structured, lackluster thriller by the director of possibly the most energetic film in years ("Run Lola Run", the only film of his that gets mentioned by anyone besides Ebert, and by a lot of sites, including The Playlist) Tom Tykwer. It's about the tracking down of a seedy bank called the IBBC by two agents: Louis Salinger (Clive Owen), a troubled man with a bad record with Interpol, and Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), the straight woman who's trying to keep Salinger in line while trying to stop the bank's force.

The IBBC tries to take hold of the debts of conflicts and buys missiles from China and sells them to help do so. They are headed by Jonas Skarssen (Ulrich Thomsen), a horribly rounded, steel-braced, and accented man at the top who's currently trying to make a deal with a revolutionary group in Liberia. The bank keeps the operations clean by killing every man who steps in the way. Basically, the film is about Salinger's hopes of bringing the corrupt financial institution to justice. This, of course, leads him to many locales around Europe and the globe. Although there is some intrigue injected into this insipid film, there is no real interest.

The film and its advertisements are built around a fight scene in the Guggenheim Museum. This is in fact very well-done, although all the art has been replaced with just screens thus detracting the realism just for a single choice mechanism (a reflection). Other than that, Tykwer's efforts here to create excitement are foiled. In the end, "The International" spouts an odd, perhaps brilliant take on how effective the whole investigation was, and leaves you wondering. I guess that's really the best that can be said for it. The screenplay, by rookie movie screenwriter Eric Singer, is cliche and massively boring. As with the film, there are one or two nice moments, but altogether, it reeks of oldness.

This is purely a theoretical film, not visually grabbing but pretty well composed (although the cinematography is pretty standard by means of the genre). Owen and Watts are very tepid, as is the support by Thomsen and Armin Mueller-Stahl as a Communist who's also involved in the bank. Really, the plot behind "The International" doesn't seem like it could fuel much, although it's conceptually interesting. Neither could the visuals, acting, or anything else associated. Was I pulled in? Only slightly. That's okay, but there needs to be more here. C

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