Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Written by Eric Singer
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Starring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and Armin Mueller-Stahl

Louis Salinger: I want some fucking justice.

In times of economic woe, it is easy to paint the institution with money as the face of evil. I’m not saying there isn’t reason to do so, just that it’s simply easy to do. Enter Eric Singer and his “banks as murderers” idea for THE INTERNATIONAL, a thriller that lives up to its name but not the genre it belongs to. This is to say that while THE INTERNATIONAL certainly spans the globe, it doesn’t provide much in the way of thrills along the way. In fact, it is often quite measured, relying on lengthy stretches of dialogue just so that the viewer can make sense of its unnecessarily complicated plot. Still, there is talent and beauty everywhere you look on screen, so there are distractions aplenty to keep you reasonably entertained; unfortunately, there is just one scene that you will remember after the fact.

Apparently – now brace yourself; this may be hard to comprehend – banks should not be trusted. I suppose, telling this story at a time where most of the population fortunate enough to have money to put into a bank already smells something rank on the rise, will help most people buy this crazy notion. You may have already suspected something afoul with the banks but did you ever imagine that the world’s largest banks would be conspiring with every arm of government and every major corporation on the planet to control the world’s cash flow? It is truly mind blowing and by mind blowing, I mean ridiculously trite. So much so that it seems somewhat beneath director, Tom Tykwer, to pick this as his first serious foray into big budget Hollywood heaven. Tykwer, most famous for his groundbreaking picture, RUN LOLA RUN, infuses THE INTERNATIONAL with an incredible sense of visual style that would certainly make any conventional script into a winner. Well, it would if it weren’t a script about killer banks.

Tykwer does give us an explosive shoot out at the Guggenheim museum in New York City that will certainly go down as one of the most intense, and not to mention artful, action sequences to grace screens this year. The clear, straight lines drawn by the panes of glass hanging from the ceiling or the bullets cutting across the room are interrupted by the lucid flow of the winding stairs and the general chaos of the situation at hand. It is all so full and surprisingly lush, considering how monochromatic the whole setting is, but yet it is oddly simple in its intricacies. Alas, one great scene does not a great movie make. Perhaps had the principles of this one scene been applied to everything that came before and after it, the whole thing would be riveting. Instead, everything seems to be figured out before it is even explained, leaving nothing new to discover. Apparently, banks are not the bad guys we should worry about; writers are. (I should probably mention that I work in a bank by day and write at night.)

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