Sunday, February 15, 2009

The International (***)

The International.  118 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Tom Twyker.  Written by Eric Singer.  Starring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Despite an intriguing premise (international banks gone rogue!) and direction from the guy who did the kinetically hyper Run Lola Run, you'd think The International would be a lot more exciting.  It's labeled a thriller, but it doesn't move like one.  The first hour and fifteen minutes or so are intriguing enough as you try to piece together the assassination of a foreign dignity with an evil bank's brokerage of an armed weapons deal.  The plotting is dense and convoluted, and even though it moves slow, the movie stays interesting.  Stars Clive Owen and Naomi Watts are engaging enough as actors, but the characters they're playing are less so.  The International basically just stays afloat until the big action set piece set in the Guggenheim Museum.  This action scene is the best thing in the movie by a mile, and worth the price of admission.  The gunplay comes in fast and furious doses as the characters shoot the living daylights out of every orifice of the museum.  Director Tom Twyker takes the simple idea of people shooting at each other, and makes it exciting and visually inventive.  Had the movie ended after this action sequence, I would have left very satisfied, but instead, the movie continues for another half hour slowing down to an absolute crawl as you feel the audience grow antsy around you.  The International ends up a solid flick, but falls far short of greatness.  



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