Friday, February 12, 2010

Badly plotted movie showcases more about incompetent writers than evil bankers

The International (2009)
Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Brian F. O'Byrne, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Allesandro Fabrizi
Director: Tom Tykwer
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

An Interpol agent on the verge of a breakdown (Owen) and a dedicated New York Asst. District Attorney (Watts) team up to investigate a powerful international bank that will stop at nothing to achieve its business goals.

"The International" is a sluggishly paced thriller with a script that could have done with at least one more revision and an end product that should have gone back to the editor.

The bankers featured in this film must be the same guys who were in charge at Washington Mutual or maybe Freddie Mac in recent years, because they're the sort of idiots who would keep issuing loans to people who would never pay them back. If they didn't seem so incompetent, maybe the conspiracies they are engaged in would seem less far fetched and pointless.

The main plot point around which the film revolves--the bank is going to collapse if they don't make a convoluted arms investment scheme work--would have been solved 20 minutes in, if, as a character says in the third act, "You should have come to me first." Of course, that would have meant this would have been a really short movie without any action scenes... but that would have been preferable to what we end up with here.

As it stands, the bankers here are nefarious for no reason other than to be nefarious, and they are so stupid that it boggles the engaged mind our heroes (or even some bumbling US Senator in search of headlines) can't nail them. Of course, the script is so badly written that many of the setbacks are heroes suffer are just as much due to bad luck as the eeeevil powers of the International.

Almost worse than the bad script is the way the film is padded. It's just a few seconds here and few seconds there, but after a while it becomes annoying and obvious. Time and again, we're given establishing shots to establishing shots. Because the film takes its sweet time getting just about every scene underway--presumably because the director thought this would help build suspense--we're given plenty of time to reflect on the story problems in what we are watching unfold.

Tip to future filmmakers: If you have a bad script for your thriller, speed things up rather than slow them down. The audience won't have time to catch all the stupidity, and, even if they do, they'll be grateful that the film was only 85 minutes long as opposed to 111 minutes.

"The International" is rather like the conspiracy theories it tries to bring to life as it unfolds--you know, the ones about the Gnomes of Zurich running the world through international banks--in that if you apply any thought to them, they collapse under their own illogic.

Don't waste your time and money on this film. It has decent performances from every featured actor and a very cool shoot-out at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but these aren't enough to make it worth two hours of your life. (The four rating I'm giving it is a low four.)

1 comment:

  1. Definitely agree with your review. Thought the ending was really bad and anti-climatic. The shoot-out was cool though.

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