THE INTERNATIONAL ****

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clive1

THE INTERNATIONAL is possessed of equal parts magnificent glamour and harsh grittiness – with beautiful actors walking the high wire in heartstopping locales.

It also has a fabulous undercurrent of dark humour.

LOUIS SALINGER (CLIVE OWEN) is a former Scotland Yard inspector turned Interpol agent. He’s rumpled, world weary and seems to possess an underlying depth of sadness within his deep green eyes.

He has formed a professional partnership with ELEANOR WHITMAN (NAOMI WATTS), a passionate, focused New York district attorney whose exacting moral compass means that she will give up everything she needs to in pursuit of the truth.

The object of their mutual obsession is the INTERNATIONAL BANK OF BUSINESS & CREDIT. This utterly corrupt institution is involved in all manner of shady situations, including arms dealing and military coups. The people that are running the show are greedy and power hungry. They will stop at nothing as long as they are able to accomplish their goals.

But dismantling all of the infrastructure and bringing these white collar criminals down is proving much more complicated than Louis and Eleanor have ever imagined.

After some false starts and numerous difficulties, they finally have a major break. They manage to arrest WILHELM WEXLER (ARMIN MUELLER STAHL), one of the bank officials who can supply them with real information and evidence.

Wexler is a man who used to have ideals and integrity. He was also a KGB assassin and a committed Communist.

But a series of personal tragedies left him vulnerable to taking the easy way out. So he spends his days in the employment of one of the most thoroughly evil capitalist organizations that was ever created.

He tells Louis that he will never be able to assist them effectively even if he were willing. The central branch of IBBC in Manhattan does money laundering for every large criminal organization around the globe. He informs him that many of the governments of the most influential nations in the world are complicit in this.

They will all be dead long before any of those people can be brought to justice.

But Louis is undaunted. He knows precisely what he’s doing and he is determined to find a way….

TOM TYKWER is largely responsible for the success of this movie. As always, tone is everything – particularly with intellectually based thrillers. His direction is bold and impressive.

There are plenty of tension filled scenes and one fabulous set piece which involves a masterfully startling shoot out at the Guggenheim museum. To state that you’re on the edge of your seat doesn’t give the sequence nearly enough credit – and it is perfectly suited to the pristine white interior of that gloriously artistic building, including all of that never ending circular space.

The acting is excellent. Both Ms. Watts and Mr. Mueller Stahl are fantastic.

But Mr. Owen has enough intensity to blow almost anyone off the screen.

He is absolutely riveting.

He and Naomi’s character have a real connection despite her seemingly solid marriage. They do care a great deal for each other. There’s no affair officially going on. But there are obviously some very deep feelings invested.

At one point, Louis decides that he must go undercover in order to complete all of their objectives. This is entirely unacceptable to Eleanor. She’s afraid that he’s going to get hurt.

But he knows that he only has two choices: to drop the matter entirely and let the IBBC go on as always or to fight back on their level and be just as duplicitous as they are. Otherwise she and her family will be put at risk.

There is no other way for him. For her sake, he has to take that chance.

He tells her, “There are times to build bridges and there are times to burn them. This is a bridge that you have to burn.”

It’s a scorching moment in an excellent performance that is well worth the price of admission.

As well, there is gorgeous crisp cinematography, seamless editing and breathtaking settings: New York, Berlin, Milan, Turkey. It’s also blessed with a sharp, exceptionally clever conclusion.

This is the kind of polished, sleek, ultrastylish gem that is immensely well made and thoroughly enjoyable. They’re rare enough on any occasion, but almost unheard of this early in the cinematic calendar.

It’s certainly reason enough to find it…

6 Responses to “THE INTERNATIONAL ****”

  1. Nice review of THE INTERNATIONAL by MATTHEW HUNTLEY of BOX OFFICE PROPHETS.

    Thanks for that, my precious little glim.

    Whatever would I do without you…?

  2. glimmer Says:

    so what do you think of the cover they’re using for the international region 1 dvd???

    prefer it to the one used in the theatre???

  3. glim!!!

    You’re back, sugar plum. Happy days!!!

    Uh…as aesthetically and visually inclined as I am, I have to be honest.

    Unless it’s particularly outstanding, I never pay attention to details like that.

    I have no link, honey.

    Are you talking about that monstrosity where CLIVE is grimacing, playing alpha male with the gun in his hand and has that disgusting scar on his face – while NAOMI stands there passively like a good little girl…?

    If so, I thought it was thoroughly pathetic. In more ways than one.

    I hope that’s not it, glimster. It’s very, very bad.

  4. glimmer Says:

    second image is the region one retail. i stole this image from amazon. so this has got to be it…

    yeah, m. it seems you know of the cover that’s being used.

    and another way this cover will backfire on whomever that ok’ed it is a lot of impulse buys/rentals a cover like this could pull/will pull…are gonna want a more actiony movie than uh what THE INTERNATIONAL is. or they’re gonna say clive owen oh this gonna be like SHOOT EM UP.

    and them they’ll tell 50 people how much the movie sucks since it’s *not* SHOOT EM UP.

    i wasn’t wowed by the theatrical poster /but it’s beyond brilliant compared to retail.

    and m. you know that a lot of the blockbuster/top five for weekend only type of movies won’t have a problem with a passive female on the cover.

    hell, they won’t even question.

    and as you know a lot of these are female too…

    and m. when i’m back that means the opera browser is back too. ha ha…

    thanks… 🙂

  5. Wel, that image is just so bloody ridiculous, glim.

    And if we haven’t moved past passive female characters for film in the new millennium then some jackasses should pay big time. If other women are not bothered by what that says about our society then I think those broads should be indoctrinated into the real world.

    That offends me deeply.

    Earlier generations of women (and men) didn’t put their asses on the line so that we could continue to glorify women being held down in our present society with limited freedoms and choice.

    This is a brand new century, fools. Get with the program. NOW.

    NAOMI was not a passive character in THE INTERNATIONAL. She was a hardnosed, powerful district attorney. The plot called for CLIVE to become more involved on the action end and risk his life. But he did it so that she would stay safe and not put her family in jeopardy.

    Many of the people who were on their side – attempted to bring the bank down and get those white collar goons into court – had been killed along with their loved ones. It was a real concern for CLIVE.

    It wasn’t sexist. AT ALL. She was genuinely at risk. He had no one. So he had the luxury of jumping off that diving board. She did not.

    Yeah…way to misrepresent. Morons.

    Even though the image is the same, I actually like the first one – with its gleaming white curves taken from the GUGGENHEIM.

    Actually, I quite enjoyed SHOOT EM UP, glim. It was a hoot and it never tried to be anything it wasn’t. For an action film, it was funny as hell (I couldn’t stop laughing) and it had some really original takes on the obvious.

    But certainly THE INTERNATIONAL is far superior. DUH…

    And I’m really glad you’re back.

    As in REALLY…

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