‘The International’ thrills audiences with action

An off-center shot of Clive
Owen (“Shoot ‘Em Up”) acting
nervous and cagey opens the fi lm
“The International” and audiences
immediately know that they’re in
for something different. Not only is
Owen acting uncharacteristically
dodgy, but the fi lming is aware
of the context of the frame. This
director knows the artistic nuances embedded in every shot and knows
how to get his actors to stretch themselves. And that initial impression
proves to be true of the entire fi lm.
“The International” is a thriller about an Interpol agent (Owen)
and a New York Assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts, “Eastern
Promises”) who are trying to bring down an international bank with
possible ties to the crime world with laundered money and arms trading.
The bank is so powerful that this literally turns into a game of life or
death at every step.
This is a suspense fi lm that harkens back to such classics as
“Scarface” with unforgettable shoot-out scenes and “Sneakers” with
its tone. In fact, one of the most amazing shooting scenes to come
along in movies in years takes place in the memorable backdrop of
the Guggenheim museum and feels as important as the chase scene in
“The French Connection.” It is painful and torturously drawn out, yet
brilliantly done.
This should come as no surprise given director Tom Tykwer’s famous
track record with such international hits as “Run, Lola, Run,” “The
Princess and the Warrior,” and “Paris, je t’aime” to his name. He can
take even a mainstream fi lm like this and turn it into cinematic art with
shots that will leave the audience breathless at their beauty. He cleverly
uses the frame of the shot to heighten suspense and not reveal people or
actions right away.
But it isn’t his work alone that makes this fi lm rise above the genre.
The writing in this fi lm just sparkles. It resonates with great lines of
truth that will long be remembered. Unfortunately, there are so many
pithy lines that they become a bit overdone as the movie progresses.
And although this is an intellectual thriller that is a cut above the rest,
it’s almost too much so. One will have to pay very close attention to
every detail in this fi lm or risk getting lost in the convoluted weavings
of the plot.
Yet even these things cannot detract from the whole picture. The
fi lm is actually shot on location in the many gorgeous locales the fi lm
highlights: Germany, Turkey, Italy and New York. This only serves to
reinforce the artistry behind the fi lm.
The same could be said for the makeup work. The characters are
seriously beaten and wounded throughout the fi lm and their wounds
look very real. Every little detail in this fi lm is painstakingly crafted.
In the end, however, this movie defi es the clean wrap-up fi lms in
this genre try to achieve. Once again it reminds audiences of those
classic fi lms from the 70s like “Serpico.” It’s a great action fl ick, but
the ending isn’t quite what one might expect. The justice one craves as
the denouement of such a fi lm is left curiously open-ended. While this
might leave some viewers unsatisfi ed, this just serves to make it more
memorable.