NOW SHOWING: THE INTERNATIONAL
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Brian F. O’ Byrne
MOVE over lawyers, drug-dealers and crooked politicians. With the subprime loan debacle and the current economic quagmire crippling the world, the favourite villains of today are bankers!At least that is how it is in The International, a cinematic expose loosely based on the Bank of Credit and Commercial Intl., a Pakistan institution that specialised in money laundering, arms dealing, and financing mercenaries and terrorists from the 1970s until its demise in 1991.
Written by Eric Warren Singer, the bank in question here is renamed the International Bank for Business and Credit (IBBC). It is the subject of a worldwide investigation by Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and New York assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts).
When their colleague suddenly dies of a “heart attack” during a stakeout in Berlin, Salinger suspects murder and starts a personal crusade to bring the people responsible to book.
The International is directed by Tom Tykwer and those who have seen his tensed action-thriller Run, Lola, Run would expect the German to outdo that 2001 hit.
And he does not disappoint. If the unravelling of the case against the IBBC looks a bit far-fetched, viewers will be astounded by the shooting and shoot-out sequences that are the highlights of this movie.
Just like that controversial sex scene at the end of his Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer (2006), the piece de resistance here is the gun-battle at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which runs for more than 12 minutes. It makes viewers wonder how the museum authorities could have allowed Tykwer to film there. According to the production notes, that sequence was shot in an old railway warehouse in Berlin refurbished to resemble the Guggenheim.
Besides this, the travelogue location shots of Berlin, Milan, Istanbul and New York by cinematographer Frank Griebe are both engaging and lively.
Still, Tykwer’s weaknesses remain. The dialogue is lame; there is no attempt at providing humour or romance.
Lead star Owen looks perpetually angry and tensed throughout the proceedings — and we wonder when he is going to implode.
Watts is left to improvise her way through the movie, playing an obviously underwritten role, especially when it concerns Eleanour’s family and the danger they may be facing. She manages to make the best of her scenes, though.
On the other side of the moral coin, veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, who plays the bank’s trouble-shooter, fares better.
He manages to stay one step ahead of the stale script and makes his character enigmatic and even charming.
Ulrich Thomsen, as the bank’s boss, does a good portrayal of the bureaucrat we love to hate.
However, after all those plotting, political intrigues and moral complexity, the ending is an anticlimax. It feels as if Tykwer and Singer have run out of ideas and patience.
The International is not one of Tykwer’s better works but it has enough thrills to sustain our interest. A suspense thriller we can bank on, so to speak.
Source : The New Straits Times
Selasa, Mac 24, 2009
NOW SHOWING: THE INTERNATIONAL