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The International Movie Review

- 1 March 2009, 08:03

One Angry Man
by Betty Jo Tucker

Delivering one of the most riveting performances of his career, Clive Owen makes The International a must-see for thriller fans. The film also boasts great location shots and an incredible gunfight inside the Guggenheim Museum — plus lovely co-star Naomi Watts — but it’s Owen who earned my rapt attention as an Interpol Agent becoming angrier and angrier during his search for justice.

Louis Salinger (Owen) is hot on the trail of illegal actions by a powerful world bank. When his partner dies mysteriously — and right before a bank bigwig is about to reveal valuable information concerning the bank’s underhanded dealings, Louis pairs up with Eleanor Whitman (Watts), a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney who’s just as eager to bring down the culprits. The complex investigation takes Louie and Eleanor to Milan, Berlin, Istanbul and back to New York City. Facing obstacles at every turn, these two learn how difficult and dangerous it is to go up against such an influential financial institution. What can they possibly do to stop this international banking giant?

As played by Watts, Eleanor appears in control of her emotions during most of their important mission. In contrast, Owen portrays Louis as a man obsessed with righting the injustices he discovers. With every furious look and intense vocal inflection, this talented British actor shows how deeply Louis abhors the bank’s entrenched power and the nefarious way the officials thwart any investigation into their money laundering, arms trading and interference with governments.

Visually, The International proves thrillers don’t need jerky camera work to be exciting, thanks to cinematographer Frank Griebe (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). I loved the artistic overhead shots and the way Griebe showcases stunning architecture in each international location. Although the plot can be a bit hard to follow at times, some of the dialogue is priceless. My favorite line comes from Wilhelm Wexler (Armin Mueller-Stahl), one of the bank conspirators. “The difference between real life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense,” Wexler tells Louis.

No review of The International would be complete without praising its amazing Guggenheim Museum sequence. This Museum has been criticized for overshadowing the art displayed within — and similarly, the film’s remarkable action filmed there might overshadow the movie. I still can’t figure out how it was done. But I’m definitely glad it turned out so well.

Kudos to director Tom Tykwer (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) for his deft direction as well as to new screenwriter Eric Singer for his timely script. After sitting through the dreadful Confessions of a Shopaholic on the same day as watching The International, I also feel extremely grateful to everyone else associated with the latter film.

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “R” for some sequences of violence and language.)

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.


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