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February 25, 2009 > Movie Review: The International - Lame and Avoidable

Movie Review: The International - Lame and Avoidable

By Joe Samagond

The International turns out to be an overly-ambitious political wannabe thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. The film was shot in an array of exciting locations stretching from New York to London to Berlin to Potsdam to Milan to Istanbul with a story line about a rogue bank, which makes it timely. The villain in this piece is the International Bank of Credit and Commerce (IBCC). But the movie is so lame that even the heavyweight talents of Clive Owen and Naomi Watts could not save it.

Owen plays Interpol agent Louis Salinger. He's working undercover with a partner who dies just before a suspicious transaction is about to go down. Louis must now get to the bottom of the scandal and enlists the help of Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts). These two are soon deep into an investigation, but their efforts are a constant puzzle. It seems that the IBBC has cornered the market on small arms and is about to broker a deal between China and Middle East nations hostile to Israel for guided missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv which would trigger a huge Mideast war. What ensues is a globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse which takes the pair to plenty of places where neither has jurisdiction to operate.

Owen is always captivating on screen. His presence and delivery are impressive but he has little to work with. Although Watts is a fine actress, her character lacks any passion or emotion. Neither of their characters is effectively built out. While Tom Tykwer's direction is reasonably good, the movie falls flat with a weak story and poor script writing. A big gun battle in New York City's Guggenheim Museum was the only exciting aspect of the whole movie. Other than that, this is a forgettable suspense movie. Apparently the movie was supposed to be released in time for Oscar season last year, but test screenings went badly and more action was added. That is surprising news, given how little action there really is in this "action" movie. The uneven pacing shows in the final product and the movie really flounders when Owen's character goes rogue. The International is so confusing I would rather stand in a long bank line for the same period of time.

Rated: R for profanity and graphic violence.
Runtime: 118 minutes

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