Banks are bad. At least that's what elementary school children must think given the circumstances over the last nine months, and what Sony Pictures wants us to believe so that we'll buy or rent The International, a movie about a bank so evil that not only does it have the potential to bring the world's entire financial system crashing to the ground but that is also willing to kill people and start wars to make billions of dollars. It makes WAMU look like Shamu.
As I stop giggling over my absurdly clever joke from the previous paragraph, I will go over some of the basics: Clive Owen stars as a disheveled-but-always-dashing Interpol agent named Louis Salinger, who has spent years trying to reveal the evil workings of a major global financial institution. Naomi Watts stars as his attractive but otherwise useless partner (well, she does get hit by a car in one scene). The two set out to bring down the bank and the people involved, even if it means going outside our system of justice. Gasp!
The International movie is one of those films that believes it's smarter than it actually is. When all is said and done, we're not any smarter for watching the movie, and, more importantly, we don't feel we're smarter. The International has some intrigue and some exotic locations - if you consider Germany, the UK and New York as such - but it's by no means a sharp-toothed thriller with James Bond action and Jason Bourne suspense, even though it so desperately wants to be. Sadly, this leaves The International looking rather plain and uninteresting, even though it deserves a gold star for effort.
Though The International is nothing to scream home about, it has just enough to keep things rolling along. It isn't as intricate or clever as I would have liked, but it isn't foolish either, and movies-that-aren't-foolish are often worth renting. The International is; just don't expect much.
The movie has sporadic action, most of which isn't particularly exciting, but it does take off when the characters wind up at the Guggenheim and a massive shoot-out ensues. The movie lacks the pizzazz of director Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run, but the Guggenheim action scene should satisfy most fans of the genre. As a person who isn't that fond of museums, it's good to see such locations put to good use.
The bottom line is that The International is just okay, and barely that. The Guggenheim scene is good, but the rest of the action is immediately forgettable. The story never becomes as complex as a film like this needs to be, and it gets a little heavy handed by the end with no satisfying climax. Naomi Watts, a woman I consider to be a strong actress when given the opportunity, blends into the background, and Clive Owen really just plays the same character he always plays. Watch it, but don't expect much.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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