The International (US-Germany-UK, 2009)

Banking on justice

Banking on justice

In the 1930s the Warners gangster cycle was sold as movies made off newspaper headlines. The International is, the end credits suggest, made off today’s headlines. I think that’s true except the newspapers don’t explain what’s behind the events; this film does. Based on the premise that international finance is corrupt (who’s going to argue with that?) the film investigates ‘how much can good people do?’

If that sounds too heavy then the film delivers as a thriller with a fantastic set piece in the Guggenheim museum that has shades of Michael Mann.  Clive Owen’s hero remains human and fear leaks off him when he’s under fire: he’s no Bourne killing machine or Bond poser.

From the opening sequence Tom Tykwer’s direction is gripping and locations, numerous cities across Europe, as well as New York, are used brilliantly. There’s a constant refrain of overhead shots making people seem like ants; referencing Harry Lime’s speech in The Third Man (1949). The International has the kick of an early ’70s ‘New Hollywood’ paranoia thriller with an intense topicality that makes it the first ‘must see’ movie of 2009.

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One Response

  1. Well I finally saw it and…. well it is as I thought. It is a popcorn thriller posing as a deep and politically relevant statement on society. It is very similar to Blindness in that it thinks that it has more to say when it actually doesn’t, because to say the banks are the people who are going to take over the world in the world’s current state isn’t very difficult. It is in a sense just an action movie, a sort of well put together action film, but it is no more than that. The ace up its sleeve is definitely the shootout in the museum which is very good and executed with style. But just because you invoke the style Heat doesn’t make you Michael Mann and unlike Michael Mann, Tykwer is unable to bring the movie back up to the standard of his shootout and also unlike Michael Mann, Tykwer and his writers fail to make his films deep. And I like Clive Owen but this was not good

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