The International

The International

If it had just a little more anything, it could have been a better film. Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) is a U.S. district attorney working with various foreign authorities to bring down a massive money laundering operation that fronts as a bank. She is teamed with Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen), who has been […]


If it had just a little more anything, it could have been a better film.

Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) is a U.S. district attorney working with various foreign authorities to bring down a massive money laundering operation that fronts as a bank. She is teamed with Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen), who has been on the financial institution’s trail for years but never permitted to get this close. Lou is supposed to deal in information but he has trouble just sitting at a desk so he joins the physical hunt. As they dig deeper, Eleanor and Lou discover the bank funds civil and international wars to control the country’s debt and thus control the country – and everyone’s hands are dirty.

The premise is attractive and the story is loosely based on a 1980s scandal. But it’s just not enough. The narrative is seriously lacking in what one would have thought to be inherent intrigue. The espionage element of the film is far weaker than expected for this style of narrative. In addition, save for an exciting extended shootout at the Guggenheim, the film’s action falls flat.

For the most part, the dialogue is horrendously laughable. Yet, Owen and Watts manage to rise above it and turn-in respectable performances. They are genuinely serious about their task and struggle with the tough decisions, despite their cheesy exchanges. The rest of the cast is okay, delivering their lines equally straight.

The film’s conclusion is simultaneously fitting and anti-climactic. The protagonists’ goals are only minimally realized despite their tremendous efforts and sacrifice, which is typical of the business but not a mode of narrative closure.

Director Tom Tykwer’s previous endeavour, Run Lola Run, was such an accomplishment in pace and style; it would have been nice to see some of that translated to The International.