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The International 

Wait for the full-throttle ending. It's worth it.

It's the tact of movies like The International that they take work to follow. It's meant as an engrossing technique, allowing viewers to feel like insiders for keeping track of covert malpractice operations, and differentiating between a multiplicity of referenced people whose names all start with Cs, Ss, and Ws. When director Tom Tykwer wants me to work extra hard, he'll write a location name on the side of the screen at the same time that a character's speech is subtitled, so I have to try and two things at once. But it's Tykwer's investment in this genre that makes The International worthwhile.

Lou (Clive Owen) is an Interpol agent joined by DA Ella (Naomi Watts) in a globetrotting attempt to expose the fictitious International Belgian Bank of Commerce, which is involved in arms deals. Murder is used to keep secrets safe and companies in profit---director Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume) may be cynical, but that gives The International a moral perspective. Tykwer strikes a contemporary take on noir disillusion. Owen and Watts exude human vulnerability. "You're just going to accept that this is how the world is?" Lou asks a nemesis. The idealism in that question distinguishes Lou from common seen-it-all action heroes. When the movie finally gets a full-throttle action scene, in an elaborate shoot out in the Guggenheim Museum, it's spectacular---the remarkable sensation of a movie finding its shape by finally, and incredibly, cutting loose. The International builds slowly and peters out before its final 20 minutes. But it treats its realistic tone with atmosphere and style, and that gives it life. (MP)

The International
Rated R (MPAA) · 118 min. · 2009
Official Site:
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Eric Warren Singer
Producer: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle and Lloyd Phillips
Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Brían F. O'Byrne


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