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The International (2009)  rating

Review: written Aug 2009

One Great Set Piece In Otherwise Muddled Thriller

The International (2009)

Clive Owen stars in this so-so political thriller. Well, I say political, but times have changed: it is corrupt bankers rather than corrupt politicians that now supply our paranoid thrillers. Clive Owen is an Interpol policeman on a quest to expose corruption in a bank’s dealings with arms, allied with Naomi Watts' FBI agent in New York.

The build in the story is good - harking back to the days of 70's thrillers where intelligence, style and suspense made for an effective mix. However, here the three have been distilled into separate sections of the movie.. the slow build with detective work followed by a suspenseful shoot out in the Guggenheim - one of the most effective set pieces of the year, and where a more sensible film would have found its climax. However, at that point we are only half way through, and the tone shifts gear as our hero goes rogue to achieve his ends, and the moralising disconnects rather than engages. The plotting unwinds from its taut beginnings to end in an unsatisfying collection of frayed ends.

Characterisation is slim, especially for Naomi Watt’s woefully 2 dimensional character, but the visuals are great. The director clearly has an eye for design and architecture, the camera relishing in some stunning locations. The locations often reflect the characters and moods of the movie, as we move from austere emotionless modern plazas and foyers around Europe, to shadowed columns as we meet the shady arms dealers, and the fascinating endless open rooftops of the final scenes as the film attempts resolution. However, although it marks the director as one to watch, as does the stunningly brutal and suspenseful shoot out set piece, this movie is ultimately a damp squib, which only scrapes by as a middle of the road movie on the highs of the first

The International (2009)-01

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