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(I) (2009)

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7/10
Better film than critics give it credit
tjm22515 February 2009
I 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 dénouement to the film.

In short, an entertaining movie that alleviated the February blues.
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8/10
Worth a theater ticket
strigah16 February 2009
No 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.
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8/10
Excellent thriller
petsteph117 March 2009
No 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 clichés 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.
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8/10
Great mystery/investigative thriller, beautifully shot by Tom Tykwer
Dickhead_Marcus_Halberstram17 February 2009
I'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.
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8/10
Slaves to debt … The International
jaredmobarak14 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Why do I keep questioning the work of Tom Tykwer? True, I didn't know that The International was his film until way after the marketing onslaught, but even then I still held a little trepidation, although much less than when I first saw the trailers looking kind of mediocre. The guy most definitely has the goods and I'm glad English language producers are showing the confidence to start handing him big budget flicks. Much like a Marc Forster, known for small scale story-heavy movies getting a shot at directing a Bond film, Tykwer has steadily been building up to this point, helming an action thriller with a fantastically orchestrated shoot 'em up (no pun intended on the pretty bad Clive Owen starrer of that name) in the Guggenheim Museum. While I will admit to not being adverse to seeing him direct another German-language film in the vein of Lola rennt or a small indie like the Kieslowski script Heaven, I can't complain about the ones he has been making with American cash.

On paper, the plot seemed a bit stale. So some international bank is using its power and money to make a run in the small arms trade to control the debt of ninety-nine percent of all warfare in the world. Wow, our money being saved in CDs and savings accounts is going to defense contractors and third world nations to stage coups and create mayhem. Well guess what, our government is probably doing that exact same thing with our tax dollars. Who cares? It's the same old story and really not very intriguing to watch. So, let's just say I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film isn't really about our money or watching wars break out with bank backing. Instead it is the hunt for a source to take the corporation, namely Ulrich Thomsen's bank president Skarssen himself, down and create a sense of justice for the law enforcement and witnesses that have been murdered as a result of taking a stand against them. It is about seeking retribution for humans who sacrificed their lives for what they thought was morally right; and those my friend are stakes I can get behind.

Owen's Louis Salinger is Interpol and Naomi Watts' Eleanor Whitman works for the Manhattan DA's office, and both are hot on the trail of opening their long running case against the IBBC (International Bank of Business and Credit) up. After an agent is assassinated in public without a trace of foul play, Salinger begins to dig deeper and find connections between defense contractors and IBBC brass. This series of uncovering relationships and grudges leads to more deaths as well as more evidence of nefarious activities. Both leading agents find their bosses getting more and more restless, as well as scared about coming close to a truth they themselves don't feel comfortable unearthing, and eventually need to step outside the box to find more. The real chase starts when they identify the assassin being utilized to carry out the bank's more sensitive hits, leading Owen into the Frank Lloyd Wright structure for an adrenaline rush of a sequence involving machineguns, innocent bystanders, unlikely comradery between two people you anticipate being adversaries, and a lot of bullet holes in a setting that wouldn't like the destruction wrought much at all.

What happens will sometimes surprise you throughout. Not everything concludes in a clean-cut way, with loose ends tied or character's arcs never necessarily completed. Instead, what we get is a literal translation of Armin Mueller-Stahl's comment about the difference between truth and fiction—"it has to make sense in fiction". Decisions in real life don't always become black and white, but instead lie in the grey areas of right and wrong. We can't live life to perfection, we must make the tough choices to survive and find a semblance of that utopia we seek. Much in that way, the film takes turns that give us a result I think we want from the film, just not in the way we might have thought it would have occurred. But that is okay, if not better, in the long run. An investigation as far-reaching as this one can never be fully accomplished because things will always be getting in the way. People are replaceable and even if you rid a corporation of its superiors, there will always be someone else to take the place.

So, while you do get closure at the conclusion, it is not complete. And I love that aspect. Tykwer takes a Hollywood genre and instills a bit of intelligence, along with scripter Eric Singer, (I don't want to forget about him). Not only that, but the guy gets some nice performances, especially from Owen, Mueller-Stahl, Thomsen, and probably my favorite character, that of the "consultant", Brian F. O'Byrne. Watts is okay, but at times I feel a bit out of place. No matter though, the places themselves make up for that by giving us some spectacular locales. Not one to be shy about showing his home country of Germany, you also get to see a little of France and NYC along with the gorgeous scenery of Istanbul, Turkey. There really isn't much to be disappointed about here. It's an entertainingly told, intelligent tale spanning the world and put on by some great acting. I can't wait to see what Tykwer pulls out of his sleeve next, but I do know I won't be questioning its relevance anymore until the end credits roll.
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8/10
Classy Globe Hopping Thriller Pays its Dues Warning: Spoilers
A world-weary but determined INTERPOL agent (Clive Owen) teams with a District Attorney from New York City (Naomi Watts) to bring down a corrupt bank funding arms deals in Tom Tykwer's accidentally timely globe trotting conspiracy flick, "The International".

My drab one-line plot synopsis in no way prepares you for this film's smartly executed centerpiece, an outlandish and wildly entertaining shoot-out at the Guggenheim Museum that is both a bullet-riddled blood-soaked multi-media homage to Hitchcock and an artistic F-you to all of the mindless "shattered glass" suspense thrillers that have come down the pike in the last twenty years.

Those who have been keeping tabs on director Tom Tykwer's career, from the frenetic originality of "Run Lola Run" to the ungodly weird epic sumptuousness of "Perfume", might mistakenly think he was doing this one just for a paycheck. However, "The International" is far more ambitious than its genre conventions imply. Tykwer and his crew create an engaging and twisty film that combines the thematic elements of our modern CSI-style detective shows with the visual elements of Hitchcock's 1950's vista-vision thrillers. Here Tykwer's vistas are architectural landmarks from around the world that serve as picture-perfect set-pieces and back-drops for the carefully stacked plot and action.

In a modern movie world where thrillers are currently regulated to the pulse-pounding non-stop movement of the Jason Bourne films or the dumbly torturous sentimentality of something like "Taken", it's refreshing to see a film of this ilk built in such a classical way. "The International" begins "in medias res" with one of those clichéd secret meetings gone wrong, then delves into a series of expository scenes that lead to a masterfully staged assassination attempt in Milan that leads to rising action (during which I overheard a viewer behind me proclaim so succinctly that the suspense was killing her) culminating in the aforementioned Guggenheim shoot-em-up that leads to falling action that ends with a roof-top chase over the lively markets of Istanbul.

In its attempt to keep the plot one step ahead of the viewers, and the viewers one step ahead of the characters, the sometimes convoluted screenplay loses its footing and sense of pace. The cast, however, is game to play against this jaw-dropping architectural scenery. No further proof is needed beyond this film to show Clive Owen would've been a superior James Bond. Naomi Watts, whose natural charms and beauty are felonies of their own, is a bit miscast, but she does her best with the role. The revolving door of supporting players is top notch as it goes through the requisite motions. All transmitted through the keen eyes of Tykwer, "The International" crackles with tension and arrives on the world scene as a refreshingly old-fashioned suspense thriller in a post-modern milieu.
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7/10
Conventional for Tykwer means still among the best of this formulaic type of corporate espionage flick
secondtake26 January 2010
The International (2009)

We can't expect every Tom Tykwer film to be as inventive or intense as Run Lola Run or The Princess and the Warrior, and The International feels almost like a breather, an intentional turn at a conventional film. It's an espionage and high stakes international drama with guns and deceit and a pair of very distinctly good good guys played by Clive Owen (brilliantly) and Naomi Watts (unconvincingly...probably just miscast). And overall it's completely enjoyable and slick, well paced, and beautifully filmed, of course.

The plot is one of those sprawling, behind-the-scenes conspiracy, third world, big money scenarios that must have shades of truth, or lots of truth, but gets simplified into a handful of bad guys and a parade of exotic locales (including the inevitable Third World warlord who is an intelligent and willing pawn in the whole game). What I mean is, the plot almost doesn't matter in the details, though it's interesting, and makes you think and worry a little about the world we live in. It's more how the heroes unfold the facts of the plot, against the odds, the clock ticking, that make the movie good. If you liked the Bourne movies (which are as a whole probably faster and more edgy) or Syriana (which is actually kind of similar in feel overall, Clooney substituted for Owen), this will really suit you.

And there is a Tykwer twist now and then, a camera with unusual fluidity, or a scene that gets replayed and rethought. Of course, the hugely complicated shootout in the Guggenheim is a masterpiece of excessive and brilliant kinetic filming. For an amazing short video on the building of the sets for this shoot (yes, it wasn't at the real Gug), go to www.firstshowing.net and type guggenheim tykwer.

In all? The best of it is worth the worst of it. A tightly made and not overly preposterous dip into a well stocked pond.
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6/10
Exquisitely shot but problematic
C-Younkin11 February 2009
"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.
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9/10
A bit of that Anti-Formula Formula
BroadswordCallinDannyBoy28 February 2009
The International provides a breath of fresh air to fans of thrillers. It is a thriller film that rarely comes out of a big studio these days. It is a film more in style of Hitchcock with the mystery being the film's guiding force rather than frenetically stitched together action scenes. The Bourne Trilogy touched base on this type of thing, but still resorted to a largely conventional plot. While being an enjoyable and smarter-than-usual series of action movies they were nowhere near as intricate than their source material, which really dove into some seriously dark territory plot-wise with things that big budget thriller films almost never dare to touch.

This film does just that type of thing. It presents, as the villain, an institution that is pervasive in the world and most peoples lives. We deal with it almost everyday and we need to as it holds one of the things that we need everyday - money. From an observer viewpoint on this type of relationship it is easy to see which side has great power over the other and like all power, this one can also be abused. Perhaps this plot can turn people off since they refuse to believe that something that they trust with literally everything they've got, could be so untrustworthy. Or perhaps they've never seen or heard about such a thing before so therefore it can't be true. Either way, it is self-imposed mental limitation which will doom someone to eventually liking only one type of movie and/or story. Movies and stories, at their core, are presenting new ideas and patterns and The International doesn't do that with spectacular action scenes, but with it's fresh plot.

Crooks usually rob banks, but who gets robbed if the bank is the crook? That is the film's central question and the answer provided is also a bit more complex than could be expected. The path the answer doesn't always move at a breakneck pace nor are many of the answers provided fully satisfactory.

In addition to the winding plot the film features a spectacular shootout that results in a world class art museum getting trashed. It's a bit of the old action movie formula that almost never gets old, but overall the movie is an Anti-Formula to the every Hollywood Action Movie Formula. --- 9/10

BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence
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7/10
Good film until...
jack-studer-128 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was with them until they started a full on shoot out inside the Guggenheim. One shot fired in any building in Manhattan and the place is full of NYPD Blue within 3 minutes. Guys walking around a major tourist attraction spraying Uzi fire without 100 cops storming the place is insane. It's called suspension of disbelief, not suspension of sanity.

Clive Owen was entertaining and I liked that the Chief from Rescue me was one of NYPD's finest.

Regardless of your opinion about banks and multinational corporations, its a fun watch.
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7/10
Efficient thriller, relevant for our times
davideo-222 July 2009
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

As others have stated, the current banking scandals have cast a very grim light on bankers and the banking industry in general, and so The International is, if nothing else, a very timely and relevant thriller that plays on modern fears and frustrations. How it didn't do better at the box office with this in mind (maybe it was the recession? Hah, how ironic would that be, a film failed by the corrupt industry it's trying to expose?) is a mystery, but that it manages to be a genuinely intelligent and absorbing thriller anyway is a credit to it.

We have here a polished effort, slick, stylish and glossy and carried out with an accomplished flair that sets it a cut above some. In the lead role as the intrepid Interpol agent on a deadly trail of murder and corruption, Clive Owen continues to improve as an actor and has fine support, including the likes of Naomi Watts and Armin Mueheller Stall, carrying the story along as it gathers pace. The big down point, though, is that at the expense of this intelligence in the script comes a decidedly dull feeling to the film in parts, with maybe too much talking and too little action, which is counter productive to the riveting attention it's trying to demand. But this does improve towards the end and while there are some flaws, there are certainly more plusses. ***
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7/10
The bankers
jotix1004 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"The International" is an appropriate title for this fast action film. It moves from Berlin, to Istambul, with stops in Milan, Luxemburg, Lyon, and Manhattan. It is the type of thriller with lots of twists and turns that makes the viewer dizzy, not knowing what is coming up next. The best thing though is that its hero, Louis Salinger, is the kind of man that appears to be real and mortal, not one of those stereotypical action men that seem to have an unseen shield around them to stop bullets from even scratching any part of his body.

The story centers about crooked bankers that are in the business of becoming involved with the criminal element to act as the intermediaries in the illegal weapons trade being mass produced in China for the purpose of providing third world countries with arms and equipment, they do not need. As the countries take on more debt, they fall prey to the unscrupulous money men controlling the international bank that act as a go between.

Tom Tykwer, the German director of hits like "Lola rennt", has a keen sense of style that he brings to any of his projects. "The International" is no exception. The film was written by Eric Singer, better known as the author of the screenplay of "Aeon Flux". There is plenty of action in this film to keep audiences at the edge of their seats. The best sequence being the one that involves an all out shoot out inside New York's Guggenheim Museum, which by the magic of the movies, did not take place there but in a German film studio.

Clive Owen makes an excellent case of his Salinger, the agent at the center of the action. Mr. Owen keeps getting better all the time. Naomi Watts makes a valuable contribution to the film with her Eleanor Whitman, the Manhattan D.A. that is investigating the activities of a bank run by criminals. Armin Mueller-Stahl appears as one of the corrupt individuals. Ulrich Thomsen plays the head of the bank. The supporting cast does a wonderful job for Mr. Twyker.

Frank Griebe, the cinematographer, a long time associate of the director captures all the action in breathtaking images. The talented Mr. Twyker also contributes to the music score.
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7/10
Surprisingly Effective Blockbuster Thriller
Claudio Carvalho27 June 2009
The Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and his partner are investigating the International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) in a joint operation with the District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) from Manhattan in a two hundred million dollars illegal business of weapons trading. They schedule a meeting with an insider informer from IBBC at the Central Station in Berlin; however his partner is mysteriously killed after the encounter. Salinger finds the identity of the informer when he sees that the Vice President of Acquisitions André Clement (Georges Bigot) had died in a car accident. Salinger and Whitman head to Milan where they meet the politician Umberto Calvini (Luca Giorgio Barbareschi), who is great manufacturer of arms, and he explains that IBBC is interested in buying the missile guiding system that he produces in his factory. When Calvini is murdered by a sniper in a political rally, Salinger and Whitman head to New York following the killer and later to Istanbul, and disclose a scheme of arms supply and destabilization of governments to make their nations slaves of debt. Further, the bank is protected by legal systems and only if Salinger crosses the line he might bring some justice to the corrupt system.

"The International" is a surprisingly effective blockbuster thriller. I had lower expectations with this movie, but I really liked it. The complex story of corruption and greedy has flaws, but holds the attention of the viewer until the last scene. The way Louis Salinger easily travels to many countries is strange, since we simple mortals need documentation, money, reservations, connections in the airports, but his character has no problem even when he is chased by the police. In Guggenheim, the always effective police force of the movies takes a long time to come to the place and arrives only after the shooting. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Trama International" ("International Plot")
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8/10
International Intrigue via Clive Owen & Company
screenwriter-1415 February 2009
Clive Owen delivers a nice thrilling performance in an international thriller which reminds an audience of the BOURNE ULTIMATUM films with a story which takes you all over the international map in attempting to solve a crime. Owen and the lovely Naomi Watts make an interesting team of mates to travel to Berlin, et. AL. and while the story is a bit far fetched, in today's world of terrorism and plots to steal, kill and overtake countries and governments, Owen as an international Agent does manage to convince an audience of attempting to "settle justice" in a very "unjust world and political climate".

The locations are magnificent and you feel as if you are on a international travel log of stops in Berlin, Milan, Istanbul, Lyon and of course, New York. But then, this is THE INTERNATIONAL and thus the foreign locations make the story ring true to the chase for justice and to solve an international crime. One can only hope that Clive's Agent will find something of reward in the chase.
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8/10
The International
jonathanruano15 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"The International" is not your typical thriller. There is a certain cleverness about the way it was made. To begin with, German director Tom Tykwer (who gained international renown for "Run Lola Run") and writer Eric Singer have the audacity (thank god) to challenge the intelligence of their viewers. Just take the opening clip. You see Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) watching his colleague Stumer return from a car where he was speaking to an informant who has information that could bring down the nefarious IBBC bank. Suddenly, Stumer vomits and collapses to the ground. He's dead. Later Salinger learns that the poison that killed him must have come into effect within a minute. And yet even though Salinger and the viewers saw Stumer for every second of that minute, we have no idea who killed him.

This film also has one of the most entertaining heroes, Louis Salinger, because he is vulnerable. In most thrillers and action movies (and I am referring specifically to the Steven Seagal films, the Bond series, etc.), we know that the hero is going to survive and that predictability takes some of the excitement away from those films. So it is very refreshing to see a movie where the hero could actually die, whether it is by poisoning, gunfire or some other means.

Finally, Tom Tykwer has filmed one of the best action scenes in recent years at what is supposed to be the Guggenheim. The building, with its elegant circular structure, is ideal for a dramatic shoot-out between the hero and an unlikely ally on the one hand and the other bad guys, dressed conspicuously in leather jackets, on the other. Who cares whether it is implausible or not? It is simply riveting to watch and reminds me of some of the scenes found in one of the better Alfred Hitchcock pictures.

But the film is not perfect. Some of the scenes, for instance, are an obvious parody of the Kennedy assassination, which we have seen so many times before and we really do not need to see again. There are also some scenes that make little to no sense, especially the key one right at the end. But overall, "The International" is a great film and it has logic that those who are clever or just want to see something new can appreciate.
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7/10
our world sucks
Lee Eisenberg2 August 2009
In recent times, the major news in the world has consisted of war and banking scandals. While "The International" is mostly an action flick, it does focus on these topics. Like "Syriana" and "Michael Clayton", the movie portrays a world of vile people, although this one has characters whom it's easier to define as protagonists.

The movie's plot is that two agents (Clive Owen and Naomi Watts) investigate a major bank's role in arms trading. In a quest that takes them to places as far apart as New York and Luxembourg* and even Turkey, these two do everything to look into the bizarre conspiracy...not without interference. But the overall point is that pretty much everyone in these sorts of affairs is, for lack of a better word, bad. And it's a true representation of what we've seen in the world during the past few years.

All in all, this movie was no worse than I expected, no better than I expected. Worth seeing maybe once. Directed by Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") and also starring Armin Mueller-Stahl.

*We don't often see Luxembourg in movies. Or hear about it at all.
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Circularity
tedg15 February 2009
A life in film is a wonderful thing, in part because of the people you come to know intimately.

You learn how certain filmmakers twist ideas. How their imagination is shaped. Sometimes it is beautiful. Sometimes it stays beautiful and by not changing loses its luster. Then you have guys like Tykwer. He develops. He tries new moves. He thinks deeply about film. He's the guy who reimagined "Rashomon." He's the fellow who stood with Cate Blanchett looking as Kieslowski with a Kieslowski script by God!

He made a film based on sight as smell, and recently one on cinematic sight through blindness.

Now he makes an action movie with, guess what? No sex, no car chase, no fight on the top of a train, no gasoline explosions. And he doesn't rely on that newspaper notion of "a thinking man's thriller," because he deliberately makes the template so ordinary it fades from view. It hardly matters that there is a bank involved. Its all about that vanilla bugaboo, the conspiracy that compromises the authorities and (usually) involves arms. Really, the story disappears.

What we are left with is an amazing use of context. I've seen James Bond, Jason Bourne and Laura Croft traipse through famous cities, but their beings are never affected. Tykwer, I surmise, saw this as an opportunity to do a Kieslowski with cities instead of rooms. Look at what he does, its an entirely environmental film. Its not quite enough, but if you are there already, its sublime.

What else? Well, test audiences did not get it, so there was a scene replaced, the one in the Guggenheim. If you have ever been in that building it is remarkable. Its a failure, an intrusive imposition. You can see where Frank knew that corners were bad, but he so mismanages the eye that you retreat into the art, or try too. Its an amazing, disturbing experience. Tykwer exploits the very things about this space that make it so unnerving.

He pretty much gleefully trashes it. This one scene, added after the movie was finished, makes the whole adventure worthwhile.

If you know architectural cinema, you'll know it was invented by Welles and depends on planes and corners. These are absent here. We have a new method, a new eye.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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10/10
Just About As Good As Hot Cornbread With Butter And Honey
Richard Green15 February 2009
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," about who wrote this new movie, The International, or who directed it, or who changed the lenses, et cetera. This excellent action, adventure and espionage thriller about a carnivorous cabal inside an international financial giant was worth the price of the ticket and then some. It was worth the time it takes to go back and see the film, having been turned away on the first try because The International was sold out !! It was that good.

If you don't like Clive Owen because he was in The Children of Men then you will probably like him in this clever mash-up. If you liked Clive Owen in the aforementioned apocalypticon then stick a high-voltage chocolate bar in your pantaloons and go see The International soonest.

The cinematography is great. The pace is deliberate. The sound is very good and no dialog is lost to random machine noises, as there is not much talking in the amazing shoot-out sequence at the art museum.

There is a legitimate criticism that has been made about this film, which is that Naomi Watts -- who is very talented and very beautiful -- does NOT have enough to do in a very mission-critical role.

That is really just about all the criticism I have read, that I can agree with ....

The plot is excellent. It is easy to follow even if it is highbrow.

The story proceeds logically. No heavy lifting involved, mentally speaking, and most of the dots do get connected by the end of the show.

Bankers handle money, money is about labor, and labor is about the work of our lives. If you cannot grasp those connections then just be happy in knowing that The International is fun to watch. If you can grasp those connections, then you are going to enjoy this film just like a starving man enjoys a full plate of hot cornbread sopping with butter and honey. Cold milk for the drink is optional.
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10/10
Intense
SeanDTheFilmMaker22 February 2009
Wasn't sure what really to expect. for those who didn't like it, Im sure where just looking for something to complain about as it was really well done. there where plenty of really intense moments and more importantly the characters had really clear motivation. Even the bad guys were well done, though they represent the opposition to Clive owen's character, you can still see their humanity. if they were to have an eye patch, clutching a glass cain while petting a white Persian kitty then I would have thrown up my arms and said "thats it!" But no they didn't go that direction at all. All of the characters had realistic motivation and thats enough for me as far as that goes. that and some of the shoot outs really were intense, I just loved it!
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7/10
fairly smart and intriguing, but wouldn't be as powerful without that set piece...
MisterWhiplash13 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Tom Twyker picks his projects with an eye for something that will bring him in on something really significant, even if it's just (or maybe because of) one sequence. Previously we saw his adaptation of Perfume which had that incredibly strange and erotica and absurd climax with the orgy in the arena. This time we get a gigantic shoot-out set-piece at the Guggenheim museum in New York. What leads up to this exactly I wont say, not because I would be too spoiling but because it's almost inconsequential. From the lead-up to this, which is just suspenseful enough, all the way through the execution of all of these rounds fired off, hundreds and hundreds of bullets in the walls of one of the most well-renown museums in the world, Twyker makes such a remarkable sequence that it stands up to some of the best I've seen in years. If nothing else, it can be counted as an equal (only this time with a straight face) with Clive Owen's previous vehicle Shoot em Up.

As for the rest of the movie... it's good, but not totally altogether remarkable. It's an unraveling-conspiracy story where a whole network of international bankers are using tons of money in under-the-table arms deals with some "nefarious" elements. This also leads to things like assassinations, and with determined and ragged Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Owen) and a Manattan DA (Watts) on the trail. Some of it you have to pay attention to closely- it's one of those not-really spy like thrillers- but at least it pays off in some satisfying conventional ways. Twyker can handle suspense pretty well, as well as having a couple of strong leads and a couple of notable supporting players like Armin Mueller-Stahl. We get wrapped up in this story of corruption and worldwide espionage, even up until an ending that is average in its bittersweet tenacity. But at the same time it doesn't really stay with the viewer - that is unless you're affected by the recent disasters going on in Wall Street.

But if nothing else, truly, all you movie fans out there, just watch the film for that Guggenheim scene. It is, for lack of a worse or better cliché, a knock-your-socks-off sequence.
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Guggenheim Gusto
jdesando16 February 2009
"Fiction has to make sense." Wilhelm Wexler (Armin Mueller Stahl in The International)

It should but doesn't apply to The International, an underwhelming thriller whose biggest draw is some fine photography of some fine world cities such as Milan, Berlin, Luxembourg, and New York. The film is inspired by scandal at the 1991 Bank of Credit and Commerce International in Pakistan, where Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein among others matriculated.

A multinational bank dealing in arms sales is an obsession with Interpol investigator Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and to a lesser degree Manhattan assistant DA Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts).

While the lesson that debt in foreign countries makes banks powerful political partners for small countries answers some questions and applies to the current world fiscal crisis, that big bank involvement never seems like a big deal for a movie. Although there is plenty of mayhem to recall Jason Bourne's (Matt Damon) globetrotting shootouts, nothing here seems important enough.

However, a set piece worth the price of admission is the shootout in Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum. The set, built in Germany, is an impressive facsimile although I am stumped to figure out why the gunplay is there rather than, say, the Bronx Zoo. Bullets and glass fly in a welcome relief from the lassitude of the first part of the film. In this scene, the museum becomes a target gallery right down to the falling glass ceiling.

Comparisons with other bad-corporations thrillers are natural, a few of the most notable being Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, and most recently Michael Clayton. Just mentioning the names of these high-class productions reveals the paucity of greatness in The International, except for that memorable Guggenheim-busting scene.

Ironically director Tom Tykwer, best known for his frenetic and rewarding Run, Lola, Run, shows his style only at that moment. Go figure.
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8/10
Taken on its own terms this is a solid thriller with one heck of a shoot out
dbborroughs31 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Clive Owen is a former British Cop now working for Interpol. He is currently investigating a huge multinational bank and its shady dealings. He is working in connection with the Manhattan DA's office (Naomi Watts). As the film opens Owen's partner is talking to an informant from the bank, as the meeting ends and the partner goes to cross the street to rejoin Owen, he suddenly collapses, dead. Things have turned deadly. As Owen and Watts more bodies begin to turn up and its soon clear the bank will stop at nothing to keep their secrets secret.

Dark tale of a corporation going rogue and seeming above the law, this is a really good thriller who's timing is either good or bad owing to the recent banking collapses. I really liked this film a great deal. It's nicely tense, has a couple of super set pieces (The shoot out in the Guggenheim is a stand out) and is nicely bleak in its view of people who think they are too big to be answerable to the laws that the rest of us follow. Owen is fantastic as the hero with a troubled past. This is his film and I think the film works largely because we sympathize and relate to him and his plight.

If there is any real flaw in the film its that a couple of times things take turns that don't make a great deal of sense since what happens would actually raise too many questions (The great shoot out would blow the conspiracy wide open-even with the banks cash), that said, if you take the film on its own terms, as the cinematic equivalent to the literary novels of people like Balducci, Patterson or Kellerman, then you'll have a great time. Perhaps the best thing I can say is that I'd like to see it again.
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8/10
Stunning Transfer; Decent Story
ccthemovieman-116 June 2009
For those interested in how this looks in high-definition: this is, indeed, one of the best Blu-Ray transfers you'll see at this point-and-time. I can't imagine it getting any sharper. Scene after scene left me amazed at the clarity of the picture. It makes this film fun to watch because the story is pretty good, about a C-plus if I was grading it. The visuals, though, make it a disc to own.

What is spectacular is the scenery, some excellent close-ups and overhead shots, and one action scene in particular: a shootout at the Guggenheim Art Museum in New York City that will get your attention! It reminded me of the dramatic shootout scene in the streets of Los Angeles in the 1995 movie "Heat." This scene was just as intense. The sound of all the bullets - and there are hundreds in this scene - going from speaker-to-speaker was very cool, too.

The acting here was good, led by Clive Owen and Armin Mueller-Stahl. I don't think I've found the latter to be anything less from riveting, no matter what film he's in. The only flaw I saw was Naomi Watts looking out of place in this story. It would have been a more credible story with her role being filled by another tough guy like the one Owen played here.

Whatever, if you want to see just how good a Blu-Ray transfer can look, while getting a decent story with exotic locales and interesting people, check this out.
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5/10
The International: Movie Review from The Massie Twins
GoneWithTheTwins12 February 2009
Beginning like an episode of CSI, transitioning into the espionage action of 24, and closing like a Grand Theft Auto mission, The International doesn't fail to entertain - it just doesn't offer us anything we haven't seen before. Clive Owen gets another chance at being Bond and admirably handles the weathered protagonist as well as a few intense action sequences, most notably the stunning Guggenheim shootout. As with most modest thrillers, the hero only gets to be heroic for so long and then succumbs to the limitations of traditional nobility, adhering to what is acceptable conduct for the "good guy". The International teases us with the possibilities of rebellion, but when it can't bring itself to follow through, the audience is left slightly betrayed knowing justice doesn't win to the degree that it could have.

Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) tirelessly strives to bring down the International Bank of Business and Credit, a ruthless corporation he knows is funding terrorism and war. With the aid of Assistant DA Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), Salinger uncovers the clues he needs to find a reliable informant, but as he draws closer to cornering his prey he witnesses firsthand the tragic collateral damage caused from confronting such a powerful juggernaut. As the death toll rises, Salinger must determine the price he is willing to pay to continue in his chaotic mission of justice.

Back and forth between Germany, France, Italy, New York and more, The International treats audiences to action and intrigue in some amazing locales. The most impressive sequence takes place in the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, involving the most unlikely ambush, machinegun shootout and bloody getaway. The setup for location-hopping and international espionage makes this feel like James Bond, except there isn't quite enough action, the pacing is a little slow, and the first act is reminiscent of a CSI episode. That's not entirely a bad thing - although the film doesn't know what it wants to be, the constant chases, high-speed pursuits and thrill of the hunt is enough to keep things generally amusing.

Protocol, procedure and jurisdiction always get in the way of justice. No one can handle the truth because of the immense responsibilities; stepping out of the boundaries of the law is crucial to success, and no real solutions can ever change the overwhelming corruption that seizes each aspect of every government. This isn't a new premise for Hollywood, and The International isn't relying on huge twists or extreme creativity to separate it from the commonplace action films opening on a regular basis. Audiences aren't likely to get the resolution or confirmation they're looking for by the end of this confused thriller, but as far as anyone should be concerned, the inconclusive toxin results, edited police statements, cover-ups and assassinations are no match for Clive Owen's powerful stare. It's all he ever brings to a gun-toting engagement, and it usually suffices.

  • The Massie Twins
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8/10
Fine Suspense Thriller That Lives Up to Its Name -- Shot in Just About Every Major European Tourist Locale
classicalsteve6 March 2009
Without knowing anything about who wrote this movie, I would venture that the seed of inspiration behind this finely wrought suspense thriller-drama was the late Enron Corporation. And it keeps the the viewer guessing as to not only who will get bumped off next but in which European city the next assassination will occur. Most of the cast is actually European, which I find a breath of fresh air to all the Die Hard sequels which always seem to be in Los Angeles. And of course, the film has become even more relevant with the global financial crisis of late 2008 early 2009, which the filmmakers could not have foreseen. Unless they're psychics. The central plot concerns the international financial system and how these large conglomerates make deals that may influence national defense systems, political movements, and even revolutionary coups. Not bad for a day's work at the office.

Clive Owen is convincing in his role as Louis Salinger, a disillusioned former investigator for Scotland Yard who has been probing an international banking/financial leviathan called IBBC for about as long as it takes to earn a medical degree. He has now joined Interpol to continue his international stake-out. Owen has uncovered evidence that IBBC has been playing brokerage firm for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weaponry being sold to third-world-country revolutionaries, sort of Enron meets counter-insurgency. But every time he gets enough witnesses for his case, they end up snuffed out at the hands of an assassin whose personality would make Bill Gates seem more like Sean Connery. The film begins with one of Owen's colleagues at Interpol being assassinated right after a meeting with an IBBC informant who also dies shortly thereafter. Being an IBBC informant or being in the vicinity of an IBBC informant is rather bad for your health.

The game is on as Owen must become more creative to muster up evidence into the criminal workings of this international financial firm that would make Bank of America look like Toys R Us. And he must also keep his head above water as he follows strange leads and sift through conflicting evidence. And the chase moves from Germany to France to New York and somehow ends up in Turkey, living up to the title of this being a truly international movie. The only major American character is an agent, played by Naomi Watts in a performance that was satisfactory but not great.

This movie is good but has a few flaws. Some of the assassinations seem somewhat improbable, but of course the baddies never seem to be able to get Owen. Another shortcoming is that the film reveals the baddies of the story about midway through. I think I would have preferred if the entire experience was through the eyes of Owen as his investigation leads him inside the workings of IBBC. Once the viewpoint turned to the upper echelon of IBBC, they seemed less mysterious somehow.

Still, overall a good film, maybe not the best in the genre, but better than a lot of similar offerings in recent memory. And an outstanding performance by Owen keeps the pace constantly high. A few moments were highly suspenseful which I find much more satisfying than a lot of cars blowing up. The ending was a little sobering which I think was the point. Well done.
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