Saturday 26 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Thriller · The International

The International

None February 19th, 2009


If nothing else, you've got to admire the foresight of a movie in which the bad guy is a bank.

"The International" is a throwback to the paranoia-rich thrillers of the 1970s, but whereas those earlier films wallowed in the antigovernment conspiracy-mongering of their day, this newer model is topical enough to turn banking into villainy. Sadly, it is one of the few high points in a film largely bankrupt of originality.

With its leaden pace and bland storytelling, "The International" is a particular disappointment coming from Tom Tykwer, the German director behind "Run, Lola, Run." For whatever reason, Tykwer has stifled the cinematic pyrotechnics that made his 1998 flick such a dazzler. Instead, "The International" is ponderous and plodding, trudging onward as if weighted down by a leg brace "” an item, by the way, that figures prominently in the tortuously contrived screenplay.

Clive Owen ("Shoot 'Em Up") stars as Louis Salinger, a rumpled, glowering Interpol agent who has made it his life's mission to expose the Luxembourg-based International Bank of Business and Credit. With its tentacles extending into everything from arms dealing to spurring revolutions in Third World countries, the IBBC is intent on world domination by seeking control of global debt.

In the opening minutes, Salinger's partner is killed just as the investigators make contact with a potential IBBC informant who, in turn, dies shortly afterward in a freak car accident. Clearly, this bank isn't one of those wimpy financial institutions squawking for bailout money. Who needs to fiddle with mortgage-backed securities when you've got assassins at your disposal?

Vowing to bring down the IBBC, Salinger teams up with New York assistant district attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts, "Funny Games"). Watts is a gifted actress, but why she agreed to take on this underwritten, unbelievable and inconsequential role is one of the movie's inadvertently compelling mysteries. For a district prosecutor, Whitman apparently has an ungodly amount of frequent-flier miles, and so she joins Salinger in jetting around the world "” Berlin to Milan, France to Istanbul "” trying to unravel a Byzantine conspiracy that entails car chases, political assassination and a wizened IBBC consultant (Armin Mueller-Stahl, "Eastern Promises") full of pithy sayings.

 "The International" is knee-deep in pith. First-time screenwriter Eric Singer deserves props for ambition, but he stuffs his characters full of groan-inducing aphorisms. "You must think like a man of action and act like a man of thought," one IBBC bad guy advises his young son "” and that's just about playing chess. Just imagine what the important dialogue is like.

The film does boast a marvelous set piece: a bloody shootout situated around the circular ramp of New York's Guggenheim Museum. The scene is a blood-spattered, glass-smashing knockout, and one of the few instances when "The International" is awake enough to deliver the goods.

"”Phil Bacharach

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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