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The International movie poster

The International

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by:
Tom Tykwer
Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts,
Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Felix Solis
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: No real surprises come out of this two hour (one hour too long) thriller. It's a down-to-earth, plain-wrapped flick with no visual effects, sci-fi, romance, or sex but plenty of guns and gushing blood. We like  Mr. Owen better elsewhere and Ms. Watts is a bit short on power.
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Very Bad Bankers
Timely Thriller Offers Little Hope for Change

With recession news all around us, the new thriller The International couldn't be more timely. Of course, the Eric Singer screenplay was written a few years ago, but the idea of a giant banking company with nefarious international dealings (including murder when necessary to protect the bank) does not seem farfetched at all.

Clive Owen stars as Louis Salinger, an ex-Scotland Yard man now working for Interpol to expose the dirty dealings of a massive Luxembourg-based bank known as The International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC). He's working along with a New York City District Attorney—played by Naomi Watts—although there aren't really any supporting roles to speak about here, since her underused character is more eye candy than anything else in the film. As the pair uncovers the bank's sinister intention to manipulate the world's financial underpinnings by laundering criminally obtained money, selling arms to third-world mercenaries, and generally profiting by making illegal deals, people around them begin to die at an alarming rate.

Clive Owen in The International Clive Owen in The International

This complicated thriller, directed by Tom Twyker of Run, Lola, Run fame, begins as more of a dialogue-heavy drama than an action-packed adventure, which slows things down a bit despite the great travelogue visuals as the plot moves from Europe to America and back again. But once the International's head honcho and his goons decide to take out Salinger to stop his investigation, things really get going. There's an extended sequence set in the Guggenheim Museum where the New York City landmark gets totally destroyed by an interminable and very bloody gunfire battle, while the climax in Istanbul is a visual treat. And just like in the movie Iron Man, there are plenty of Audi and Volkswagen product placements.

Clive Owen gives his usual believable performance as the cop who will not back down from the truth, despite the reality that the film depressingly posits: that no matter who is at the helm of the IBBC (or, by extrapolation, any of the other real-life major banks that have helped put America and the world into our current financial turmoil), the bad bankers will still control the world. A sad thought, that.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters and Alain Gayot

(Updated: 10/12/10 CT)

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