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June 2009
The International

by Kam Williams

The International DVD Review


Release Date: August 15, 2008
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Director: Tom Tykwer
Producers: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Lloyd Phillips
Screenwriter: Eric Singer
Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Brian F. O'Byrne

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity and graphic violence.
Running time: 118 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director's audio commentary, a deleted scene, Sony trailers, "The Making of The International" plus three other featurettes.



   






















The only thing this overly-ambitious political potboiler starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts has going for it is the fact that it was shot on an array of exotic locations stretching from New York to London to Berlin to Potsdam to Milan to Istanbul. It also features a life-size replica of the Guggenheim which provides the setting for a dizzying shootout inside the museum on its instantly-recognizable circular ramp.

The flick's timely plotline revolves around the efforts of Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Owen) and Manhattan Assistant D.A. Eleanor Whitman (Watts) to crack an intercontinental money-laundering operation hatched somewhere inside a conglomerate called the International Bank of Business and Credit. Seems that the IBBC is about to broker an arms deal between China and some Middle East nations hostile to Israel.

The point of departure is Berlin where we find ready-to-rumble Salinger partnering-up with relatively-refined Whitman in the wake of the death of her partner (Ian Burfield) under suspicious circumstances. Turns out the dearly-departed wasn't the first person investigating the IBBC to die in a freak accident.

What ensues is a globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse which takes the pair to plenty of places where neither technically has jurisdiction to operate. After all, Salinger works for Interpol which in the real world is a fairly toothless outfit about a step above dogcatcher, while Whitman, as an attorney, isn't even a law enforcement officer at all.

Nonetheless, he behaves like your classic gunslinging rogue who ignores the rules, much to the chagrin of the goons he bests with the help of cartoon physics and a body ostensibly impervious to bullets. Eleanor's job is just to play the damsel-in-distress.

Perhaps because English is not the director's native tongue, much of what's supposed to pass for credible dialogue has the characters talking in trite, fortune cookie-speak, such as "Sometimes, the hardest thing in life is knowing which bridge to cross." Yeah, and sometimes, the hardest thing in life is knowing which script to pass on.