MONKEY REVIEW: The International

February 20, 2009

theinternationalSo it’s the weekend of the Oscars, and for some strange reason you’re not totally pumped to see Fired Up! or Madea Goes To Jail, the only two new wide releases opening on Friday. Allow me then to make a case for The International, a top notch, sometimes astoundingly shot thriller from Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer, starring a particularly intense Clive Owen as a globetrotting Interpol agent battling a murderous multinational bank. It’s pretty plain from the start that The International‘s cinematic forebears are 70’s thrillers like The Parallax View or Three Days Of The Condor, and while it eschews slower 70’s pacing, it also dispenses with the furious edits that render the action in other contemporary films annoying to watch and frequently incomprehensible. Instead, Tykwer emphasizes the spatial relationships of his characters onscreen, making clear their goals and obstacles, which in turns ratchets up the tension and intensity of the action. Nowhere is this more effective than a scene where Owens finds himself trapped by gunmen on a ramp. The ensuing melee is simply one of the most brilliantly staged and flat out exciting shootouts I’ve seen in movies, and for action fans, this scene alone is worth sitting through, especially on a big screen. The International isn’t without its flaws, as it loses some momentum towards the third act. It also essentially wastes Naomi Watts in a role that’s alternately underwritten or flat out badly written: She’s required by the script to deliver some of the film’s most cringeworthy dialogue. Tykwer keeps things going fast enough that most viewers I think will find it easy to overlook these things. The overarching conspiracy elements of the plot some viewers may find hard to swallow, but I felt the final scenes of the movie made it clear that what The International was chiefly about the collision of essentially amoral forces with forces equipped with their own variable notions of moral behavior. Can we expect justice to come out of such a collision or simply more upheaval and chaos? To its credit, The International doesn’t do the thinking for its viewers, instead ending on a refreshingly adult note. The International has its flaws, but in general, it’s a pretty solid thriller, and definitely recommended. And damn, that shootout!


(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)


2 Responses to “MONKEY REVIEW: The International”

  1. Its a really great movie!

  2. Ooh! I’ll have to see that, cringeworthy dialog and all. Because I love Run Lola Run!

    Also, I love your blog, D!

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