The International – Review

Evil bankers . . . .soooooooooooo scary

Image Courtesy of

Director: Tom Tykwer
Notable Cast:
Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, Ulrich Thomsen

With the emerging financial crisis evolving to the point where the only thing left to do is to tar and feather the CEOs of most of the banking giants, it’s interesting that a film about evil bankers was already in the mix before this current recession began. Its release in the middle of all this is appropriate timing, seemingly, but Tom Tykwer forgot one thing before making the film: making it exciting.

It has all the perfunctory shootouts, and some gorgeous cinematography, but The International is an international snooze fest despite a top line cast. Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) is an Interpol agent working on a case of international proportions. The International Bank of Business and Credit is secretly behind several large arms deals and is killing anyone getting in their way. With a New York District Attorney (Naomi Watts) assisting him, it’s up to Salinger to find someone willing to testify against the bank and bring them down in a thriller of worldwide proportions.

And while the film is timely, it’s not very good. There isn’t too much to be had in terms of subtlety or shades of gray, obviously, but the film is fast paced but with nothing to do. Tykwer wisely tries to imbue the film with intensity and a faster pace like most action thrillers, but tries to pad it out to two hours to fit in a relatively simple plot. There’s too much down time between events and too much talking; for a man of action, Louis talks more than a 14 year old with good gossip. There’s at least 30 minutes of material that could be excised for the pace. And it becomes a problem because no matter how solid the action is, there’s too much time between the sequences to keep the intensity up.

Owen, who’s had some unlikely action roles since being turned down for the role of James Bond, is a capable hero but he isn’t given much to work with. The more the protagonist in an action thriller talks usually the worse it is and Louis spends more time talking and discussing parts of the film than he does engaging in it. When the action kicks in he’s more than game but getting there is a problem. Naomi Watts isn’t given much more to work with. For an actress of her profile this is a part that’s normally reserved for an up and coming actress as opposed to one of the best. There’s nothing out there for her to do other than to look scared during the action and feign intensity during the rest of the film.

The film looks great, though, as Tykwer spent a lot of time setting up some fantastic shots. This is a film with a lot of great cinematography, lots of long shots and scenery to be found, but ultimately it’s put to waste because the film doesn’t deliver anything with it. The International looks like an action thriller but ultimately never makes us feel like it is.


Tags: ,