The International (Tykwer, 2009)


Our current economic state tells us the next big villain will be the banking conglomerates/Wall Street honchos primarily responsible for our current recession, and of course Hollywood must follow suit. In Tom Tykwer’s The International, a flashy international thriller with international twists and turns, an epic and greedy German bank creates a stranglehold on the global weapons market, funding coups and plotting assassinations in Third World countries and Europe. An Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and a NYC District Attorney (Naomi Watts) struggle to reveal the conspiracy against truly international odds, jumping continents in the name of righteousness and justice. The International mixes stylized action with outright social commentary, attempting to appease both the masses and us Academic blowhards, and for the most part it’s an entertaining success. But the film never achieves an identity or a thesis, basically leaving the viewer with a simplistic picture of male cynicism forced toward a road to redemption. It’s a shame Tykwer’s genius for dynamic visuals only pops up once – a bravura shootout between multiple characters within the pale white interiors of The Guggenheim Museum, a perfect bleached canvas for bullet holes, blood splatter, and broken glass which becomes a certain painterly masterpiece all itself. In the end, you’re left wondering why more of the film didn’t play to Tykwer’s obvious strengths.

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