Rating: 2.5 stars
The International asks the question: Can an otherwise unremarkable thriller be salvaged by one truly kick-ass scene? The answer is. . .almost.
For most of its 2 hour running time, The International, which features Clive Owen as an Interpol agent on the trail of a corrupt international bank and Naomi Watts as the D.A. who assists him, is a well-mannered, mildly intriguing, and highly derivative suspense movie. Unlike the ill-conceived Confessions of a Shopaholic, at least it has the advantage of being of the zeitgeist—who doesn’t hate banks these days?
Then, about two-thirds of the way through, director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) stages one of the most spectacular gun fight sequences I’ve ever seen. It’s dazzling in how long it goes on, how entertaining it is, and mostly for its audacity of setting: The fight takes place at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, an iconic building that is known as much for its remarkable spiraled architecture as for the master artworks it displays. Ever wonder what the stark-white Guggenheim would look like after a team of uzi-wielding assasins tear through—while the museum is open? You’re about to find out.
Of course, there’s a drawback to having a scene like that in a movie. Everything afterwards seems anticlimactic. Indeed, I had just gotten used to the film’s brainy, understated approach—those looking for any sexytime between the two telegenic stars are out of luck: remember, I said this thing was well-mannered—when the fight scene broke out. Yeah, the film quickens its pace a bit after that, but it’s too late. The dazzling fight scene reminds us how much fun The International should have been.