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The International

Director Tom Tykwer is accumulating a body of interesting projects, from the frenetic time-bending Run Lola Run to the peculiar macabre of Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. With The International, he changes tack again, presenting a smart corporate thriller incumbent with all the requisite twists and turns and culminating in a nice conclusion that is both unexpected and ties in nicely with the theme of the movie.

 The story involves a bank that is financing Third World conflict and the Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and New York DA (Naomi Watts) charged with bringing it down. This proves nigh on impossible with the tendrils of the bank infiltrating both the corporate and political worlds. The film comes at an apt time when, given the current global financial crisis, opinion on banks couldn't be any lower. It also feeds into our distrust of government and the shady, back room deals they involve themselves in. The film illustrates the depth of cooperation between the global power brokers - corporations, intelligence organisations and organised crime - and these cynical times make it easy to believe it's all true. With intriguing twists and turns the movie sucks you in and won't let go but you'll need your wits about you to keep track of the multiple threads. A spectacular action set piece in the middle of the film feels a little out of place (this isn't really an action film) but it quickly pulls back into a tight thriller thereafter so it doesn't feel so much a cop out in retrospect.

 Performers do well in albeit largely shallow characters but this is not a character piece; it is an event driven story, so it's easy to forgive this minor trespass. Clive Owen plays his usual shtick to good effect, brimming with brooding intensity as the ex-Scotland Yard come Interpol agent. Naomi Watts has less to do but makes what she can of her limited screen time. Armin Mueller-Stahl rounds out the name cast.

 Although The International suffers a little in terms of scant characterisation and pacing, its engrossing narrative easily outshines these flaws and Tykwer delivers a film that is gripping from beginning to end.
Stuart Jamieson
official website

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