From its opening scene of a stealthy assassination to its unsatisfying yet realistic conclusion, The International feels like a pale imitation of The Constant Gardener. Still, it features stunning panoramic views of exotic locations like Milan and Istanbul and a timely if underdeveloped storyline, plus a valiant performance by Clive Owen.
The plot centers on Owen’s character Louis Salinger, an Interpol officer who works in tandem with Naomi Watts’ Eleanor Whitman of the Manhattan D.A.’s office to destroy the International Bank of Business and Credit. The IBBC’s recent activities have gone beyond issuing checks and now include providing third-world militias and hostile governments with advanced weaponry. The premise that banks are evil isn’t so far-fetched after September 2008, but the way that the film portrays this fact is ham-fisted. The IBBC is nefarious, but audiences almost expect to see Dr. Evil sitting in on conference calls.
Owen is determined and serious enough to give the film some credibility, and while Watts excels at looking frustrated and exhausted, her role is woefully underwritten. Director Tom Tykwer obviously aimed to make his own Bourne imitator, but the film’s one action scene – set in New York’s Guggenheim Museum – goes on for far too long. For all its faults, though, The International is smarter and more intriguing than the bland trailer would lead you to believe.
Rating: 2.5/4 stars