Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.
Release Date: February 13th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tom Tykwer Actors: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Brian F. O’Byrne
eginning like an episode of “CSI,” transitioning into the espionage action of “24,” and closing like a “Grand Theft Auto” mission, “The International” doesn’t fail to entertain – it just doesn’t offer anything audiences haven’t seen before. Clive Owen gets another chance at being like James Bond, and admirably handles the weathered protagonist, as well as a few intense action sequences (most notably, the stunning Guggenheim shootout). As with most modest thrillers, the hero only gets to be heroic for so long, and then succumbs to the limitations of traditional nobility, adhering to what is acceptable conduct for the “good guy.” “The International” teases with the possibilities of rebellion, but when it can’t bring itself to follow through, the audience is left slightly betrayed, knowing justice doesn’t win to the degree that it could have.
Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) tirelessly strives to bring down the International Bank of Business and Credit, a ruthless corporation he knows is funding terrorism and war. With the aid of Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), Salinger uncovers the clues he needs to find a reliable informant. But as he draws closer to cornering his prey, he witnesses firsthand the tragic collateral damage caused from confronting such a powerful juggernaut. As the death toll rises, Salinger must determine the price he is willing to pay to continue in his chaotic mission of justice.
Back and forth between Germany, France, Italy, New York, and more, “The International” treats audiences to action and intrigue in some amazing locales. The most impressive sequence takes place in the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, involving the most unlikely ambush, machinegun shootout, and bloody getaway. The setup for location-hopping and global espionage makes this feel like a Bond film, except that there isn’t quite enough action, the pacing is a little slow, and the first act is designed like a television episode. That’s not entirely a bad thing. Although the film doesn’t know what it wants to be, the constant chases, high-speed pursuits, and thrill of the hunt is enough to keep things generally amusing.
Protocol, procedure, and jurisdiction always get in the way of justice. No one can handle the truth because of the immense responsibilities; stepping out of the boundaries of the law is crucial to success; and no real solutions can ever change the overwhelming corruption that seizes each aspect of every government. This isn’t a new premise for Hollywood, and “The International” isn’t relying on huge twists or extreme creativity to separate it from the commonplace action films opening on a regular basis. Audiences aren’t likely to get the resolution or confirmation they’re looking for by the end of this confused thriller, but as far as anyone should be concerned, the inconclusive toxin results, edited police statements, cover-ups, and assassinations are no match for Clive Owen’s powerful stare. It’s all he ever brings to a gun-toting engagement, and it usually suffices.
– The Massie Twins