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The International
Runtime: 1 h 58 min
Rated: R
Released: 13 Feb 2009
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Eric Singer
Actors: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen
DVD release: 09 Jun 2009
Box Office: $25.5M
Company: Sony Pictures/Columbia
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Tomato user meter: 37%
Tomato consensus: The International boasts some electric action sequences and picturesque locales, but is undone by its preposterous plot.

The International

2009
Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
An Interpol agent attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution's role in an international arms dealing ring.
6.4IMDB
59%Rotten Tomatoes
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    REVIEWS:
    • Exquisitely shot but problematic"The International" is about an evil bank and begs the question; do these fricken things come in any other way? It's a fairly interesting story that got a major boost from current events last September once we learned that banks actually do have shadier dealings than expected. Only the ironic part now is will people be willing or even able to pay to see this movie. My recommendation would be wait for the DVD. Director Tim Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") does a decent directing job and for a while "The International" crackles with suspense but soon the interesting idea posed by the script, by Eric Singer, just fizzles out.

      Clive Owen plays Louis Salinger, an Interpol agent whose been trailing the business practices of one of the biggest banks in the world, the IBBC, for what seems like years. Just when he manages to find witnesses, they either end up dead or manipulated into silence. He teams up with Manhattan District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) to bring the bank to justice but she's getting added pressure to shut this whole investigation down because the two are coming up with next to no evidence. The bank's trail of money, used for everything from arms deals to murder, sends Salinger and Whitman globe-trotting from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul but one dead end could shut the case down for good.

      I'm usually not very cognizant of camera shots so the fact that i'm saying Tykwer really makes you think about perfect camera movement and angles really says a lot for what he does here. Not only does he start the suspense up early with strong verbal encounters/hard stares between characters but the way he frames and pans along the beautiful design of places like the Guggenheim Museum and the IBBC headquarters or the ancient buildings, narrow, bustling streets, and rooftops of Instanbul is fantastic. Nearly every scene has a lively visual quality. His one mistake actually comes with the movie's one big action sequence. It's a bloody shootout inside the Guggenheim but it just seems messy and hard to make out, a Paul Greengrass imitation without the exciting energy of a "Bourne" movie.

      The screenplay by Singer is more than partly to blame. His story starts out well, catching our attention with the bank's deceptive and shady practices and building up a healthy dose of paranoia as well. The problem is the screenplay then lets itself off far too easily. Instead of focusing on how the bank creates slaves-to-debt and how the whole process works, the movie just vaguely and complicatedly brushes over those issues in favor of lazy, generic plotting. Salinger and Whitman soon find that their best option is pinning a murder on IBBC, just you would think a major bank could do better than hiring such an easily track-able killer. And where the movie really goes wrong is the conclusion, which doesn't go into how the bank is actually taken down as much as it just satisfies the audience's need for bloodlust. You can tell that no one knew how to end this thing.

      Casting Clive Owen is a good idea. He brings a determined, serious demeanor to Salinger though with the type of roles he has played recently, you wonder why this guy turned down James Bond. He seems like a natural for it. The rest of the cast struggles with poor character development. Naomi Watts gets a role so useless that it could have easily been played by my grandma. Armin Mueller Stahl shows up as a former communist whose lost his way and now works with the bank as a consultant or something. He gets one well written scene, going man-o-e-man-o with Owen but otherwise not that many impressions are made by the cast. Unfortunately for the movie, try as Tykwer and Owen might, it also fails to make much of an impression as well.
      show full movie reviewsource6/10
    • Great mystery/investigative thriller, beautifully shot by Tom TykwerI'm a fan of German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The Princess And The Warrior, Heaven, Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer). The story seemed like a different direction for him, so this was a must see for me.

      First, the only problem I had with the film is the screenplay, some contrived lines, especially in the third act, stick out. The dialogue really tries to force the theme down the viewers throat. Other than that, everything else was top notch. The way the story is set up and fleshed out was engrossing to me. I like a film that lets the viewer figure it out for themselves. It's got a classic mystery set up, where the viewer is in the shoes of the protagonist, we get to figure it out along with him as he unravels it.

      Clive Owen and Naomi Watts were decent, but not really stretching there acting legs here. The cinematography and locations were beautiful, filmed in a neo-noirish blue/grey color palette with lots of wide angle shots of the characters dwarfed by the urban architecture. The shootout was very well done and more realistic and grittier than the usual action set piece.

      It actually reminded me of a Michael Mann film.
      show full movie reviewsource8/10
    • Excellent thrillerNo complaints at all about this gripping movie. The plot is original compared to the usual cops versus bad guys trash that often gets pumped out. The story centers around an international bank that makes its profits by supplying weapons to combatants in the various conflicts that cover the planet. Clive Owen is an Interpol guy trying to bring the bank down. The script is excellent, the acting is very good and the photography is above par for this kind of film. Excellent direction. This movie doesn't try too hard, is free of the cliches that often serve instead of fresh ideas and has a great shoot-out where the surprises and action keep you on the edge of your seat without trying to overwhelm with gore and jerky camera work.

      Go see it, you'll enjoy it.
      show full movie reviewsource8/10
    • Worth a theater ticketNo spoilers.

      I pretty much had zero expectations for this film. I'd seen an ad or two and it looked conventional at best, clumsy at worst. The previews certainly don't do it justice. It starts smart and mean and doesn't let up. Not everyone will enjoy the unrelenting mood, but I found the picture intense and the rest of the audience in the theater seemed to agree. It helps that Clive Owen is believable as the protagonist and is highly watchable. A lesser actor in the role would have made the film much less effective. Armin Mueller-Stahl also adds credibility and depth. Other supporting actors were, for the most part, strong and gritty. There was probably pressure for a female lead, so in Noami Watts's defense, this is probably part of the reason why the character feels so irrelevant.

      I'm happy anytime that a slick international thriller has some brains and isn't completely predictable, so I found the picture highly entertaining, if imperfect. It it flawed? Most certainly. But if you walk into the theater without pretensions, you'll probably be as entertained as I was. And I do think a theater visit is warranted, for the photography mentioned by previous reviewers, if not for the Guggenheim scene alone. I think it's dangerous to trump up a scene too much, because it inevitably leads to disappointment. But having no idea about what was coming... suffice to say, I didn't find the directing anything other than thrilling.
      show full movie reviewsource8/10
    • Better film than critics give it creditI was persuaded by my brother to see this film. I wanted to see another one but since he was visiting I agreed with his choice, and was surprised to find myself liking the film very much. OK, the script could be a little better, but the direction and acting were very good, even down to the supporting players such as the actors who portrayed the two NYC cops who assist the main character, Interpol agent Sallinger (Clive Owens), once the story moved to NYC. What I particularly liked was the way the story was told cinematically rather than through a lot of verbose dialogue. It seemed to me like a Bourne thriller for adults. No kinetic hand-held camera action, but smooth visually appealing cinematic exposition the way Hitchcock did it in his prime. Even the closing credits were used effectively to give a rather downbeat denouement to the film.

      In short, an entertaining movie that alleviated the February blues.
      show full movie reviewsource7/10