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The International

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
They fund regime change in unstable African nations and sell weapons to Israeli and Arab counterparts. Their financial tendrils are everywhere because real global power is about controlling debt. They are the International Bank of Business and Credit. Yes, the money men are the new villains in this timely thriller, which sets the rumpled integrity of Interpol agent Clive Owen and pinched determination of US investigator Naomi Watts on the trail of skullduggery resulting when the IBBC hires a ‘consultant’ (read: hitman) to cover its tracks. The quest for truth and justice involves a familiar parade of shady meetings, car chases, punch-ups and a truly spectacular shoot-out inside New York’s Guggenheim, though the increasingly scrambled plotting doesn’t quite measure up to director Tom Tykwer’s slinky, elegant handling of it.

Eventually, you just let the tangled double-crossing take care of itself and enjoy the way the film defiantly bucks the contemporary thriller trend for shaky-cam coverage and lightning cuts. Instead, there’s a slow-burning pleasure to be had from the pellucid clarity of Tykwer’s widescreen framing, the way he sets up scenes with an ominously stately aerial glide over cityscapes and gleaming modern architecture. While Owen does scruffy steeliness as well as any man alive, this is less about the performers than sustained subtle unease, adeptly orchestrated by the electric undertow of Tykwer, Reinhold and Klimek’s suavely insidious score. A shame, really, that the story folds in the final third, but for its sculptural qualities there’s much to savour here. Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados, prepare yourselves.
Written by Trevor Johnston

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 27 February 2009
  • Duration:118 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Tom Tykwer
  • Screenwriter:Eric Warren Singer
  • Cast:
    • Clive Owen
    • Naomi Watts
    • Armin Mueller-Stahl
    • Ulrich Thomsen
    • Brian F O'Byrne
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