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The International

"I wish I'd worn a scarf..." "I told ya to bring one."

R

Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl

Wilhelm: That’s the difference between truth and fiction…fiction has to make sense.

I probably won’t get this right, but I’ll try.

Louis Salinger (Owen) is an Interpol agent who witnesses a fellow agent murdered while meeting with an IBBC employee who is going to give them info about shady dealings within the bank.  Salinger, and his U.S. counterpart, Eleanor Whitman (Watts), make it their mission to discover who is responsible for the agent’s death and what kind of other illegal activity is going on within the IBBC.

Well, let’s see, in the 80’s it was the Russians who were the go-to villains in thrillers.  In the 90’s we moved along to Middle Eastern/Arab villains.  In the early to mid 2000’s, things shifted to vaguely European guys (often assisted by some American traitors).  Now…it’s the banks.  The banks are the villains, and what a powerful villain they are indeed.

They will kill anybody they need to if it means protecting their interests in weapons deals and war-mongering.  Even if they have to have a big shootout in the New York Guggenhem Museum.  That’s one of those scenes where 6 million rounds are fired, but our hero is only nicked once, while everybody else gets shot full of holes.

Speaking of our hero, Clive Owen is playing yet another part that could be described as James-Bond-light, in my opinion.  He’s not as suave or capable, but he’s still hopping from country to country, hunting down super-villains, and using spy equipment.  He doesn’t get to romance the girl, however, as Whitman is happily married and has children.  She doesn’t shy away from getting in the thick of things, though, even finding herself on the wrong side of a car windshield.  Unfortunately, she’s kinda brushed aside by Salinger late in the game, and disappears from the proceedings so that Salinger can do all the really dangerous stuff on his own.

I’ll admit it, even if it makes me sound a little slow, this movie confused me.  There are so many names and faces to remember that every time a character pops up, you’re left wondering if you’ve already heard about him or have even seen him before in the movie.  “Clement?  Was he the guy at the beginning?  In the car?  Who’s Skarssen?  Have we met him yet?”  I’m usually good about following movies, but that’s a pretty good sampling of what my internal thought process was during the movie.  Though, eventually it just shifted to, “I give up.  Can we just kill some of these people off?  That would simplify things.”  Happily, the movie obliged.

I guess I also just don’t find the high stakes world of banking, money laundering, weapons dealing, etc all that interesting.  When there are multiple scenes with multiple characters going on and on about that sort of thing, my mind tends to wander.  Far far away.  I did, however, enjoy the sequence where they’re trying to solve an assassination.  I like detective work like that, even if some of the clues and revelations were a little hokey in this case.

In the end, whether or not you’ll enjoy this one probably comes down to the subject matter.  If you like this kind of espionage thriller, with people in fancy suits talking about money and arms deals, then you’ll probably like this one alright.  It looks nice, the acting is solid, and it doesn’t go overboard with too much crazy action (though, the fast cut editing style is intrusive at times).  Most of that stuff doesn’t interest me much, so I only mildly enjoyed it.

Banks = evil.  Duh.

10 – 2.3 for being so darned confusing – 1.1 for too much dry conversation about random characters and shady dealings – .2 for tossing Naomi aside for the last 15 minutes or so! = 6.4