Review: The International

The International
Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts
Direction: Tom Tykwer
Rating: *** ½

He made …Lola run. A decade after establishing his art-house credentials with the hyper-kinetic German-language romp, director Tom Tykwer has fashioned his first mainstream Hollywood movie. A globetrotting espionage thriller, The International serves up a suitably effective piece of entertainment.

Reprising the successful formula of the Bond and Bourne capers, the narrative holds us in a vice-like grip from the very outset. With characteristic brio, Tykwer plunges into the world of corporate malfeasance. He forcefully reveals unpleasant truths about the nexus between the banking business, politics, corruption and global terrorism.

Whizzing through several exotic locations ranging from Luxembourg to Istanbul, an Interpol agent (Owen) meets violent opposition from blood-thirsty desperados in the employ of the mega-bank. Accompanied by the assistant district attorney (Watts, reduced to making what-are-we-going-to-do-next faces), the irrepressible duo is determined to expose the dirty dealings of the financial institution. Like seasoned spies, they refuse to buckle under mounting pressure.

The director displays a flair for solid storytelling, rooting our interest throughout the two hours duration. He consistently utilizes architectural space to evocative visual effect. An exhilarating action set-piece at the multi-storey Guggenheim museum in New York is the film's raison d'etre. Incidentally, the sequence was shot on a specially constructed set in Berlin.

Unfortunately, the characterisations of some of the adversaries are at best sketchy. Also, the plot gets quite convoluted during the last quarter. Never mind the occasional glitches. Overall, The International is slick stylish and certainly merits viewing.


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