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Feb 18, 2009

Fletch's Mini Film Review: The International

I just don't know where to start with The International. Should I spout off things I learned while watching it, like "Mega-huge global banks are capable of collapsing due to one arms deal going awry?" Should I chart the career of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), which probably looks a lot like an "M?" (The other high point was his short that was included in Paris, je t'aime - brilliant.) Maybe I could rant about the stutter-stop-start ramshackle way that the "case" unfolds, in which Clive Owen's Interpol agent and Naomi Watts' ADA continually hit obstacles that seem to slow them only long enough for the dramatic music to stop playing. Perhaps I could wonder aloud why the 15-minute, way-out-of-place Guggenheim shootout was included in a film that includes little other action? Or I could wonder what happened to Felix Solis's assisting detective during said shootout.

No, I won't be doing any of that, as it would all be giving too much credence to a movie that deserves none. The International is a wannabe Bourne Identity/Michael Clayton hybrid that achieves neither the frenetic energy of the former or the despair and topicality of that latter, no matter how "banky" it may be. Tykwer does a solid job early on of engaging the audience despite the lack of heavy action, but the plot holes keep opening as if the monsters from Tremors were underground, and the bevy of paper-thin characters and "A ha" co-inky-dinks just keep falling through.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"I want you to punch me as hard as you can."

11 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Mini Film Review: The International"

Craig said...

Nice review, didn't think like a must see. Not sure why Clive would do this movie, he's better than that.

Fox said...

Should I chart the career of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), which probably looks a lot like an "M?"

Nice. I like that.

DarkCity said...

Hi! Fletch,
Uh! Oh!...It seems to be "mixed'
reviews out there in the blogosphere, when it comes to the film "The International."
Uh! Oh!...I guess, I have to go the theatre to find out whether I should give the film "The International." the thumbs up! or thumbs down!...How long is this
film?...methinks, I have to sit through it looking at..."Clive Owen(s)...Should I use the "D" word?...I think not!...because you men would have to put on your "barf bag!"

Dcd ;-D

Ed Howard said...

I couldn't disagree more. Yes, the plot is serpentine and occasionally silly, and it'd be a throwaway genre piece if it weren't made by Tykwer. It's a beautifully made and structured film, where Tykwer's long stabilizing shots define the action and the themes. The film takes place mostly at a distance, in gorgeous wide shots of modernist buildings where the people investigating this mess are literally dwarfed by the faceless institutions at work. It's the exact opposite of the Bourne movies in its style, as far from Paul Greengrass' fractured editing as it is possible to get. Tykwer's style is deliberate and methodical, even formalist in the way he lets the architecture dominate the film. This is also true of the Guggenheim shootout, which does feel slightly out of tune with the rest of the film but nevertheless evinces the same emphasis on a sense of place.

It's not a masterpiece, by any means, but I thought it was a refreshing, interesting thriller, and that Tykwer did a great job of making what could have been an utterly conventional procedural into something much richer. My own review goes into more detail on what I liked about it.

Fletch said...

Ed, you've got to be kidding me. So, you're basically saying that I could go film a movie where me and Fox fart on each other for 90 minutes, but as long as it's shot in, around or near gorgeous buildings, that makes it ok?

Yes, I'm overexaggerating, but just because a movie is set in some nice looking places (and it certainly is) and darts all over the world, that doesn't mean I can like it any more than if it were shot in Cleveland. It's laughably bad, and not even remotely enjoyable. I would have rather watched (and paid for) a 2-minute slide show of the film's locales and architechtural delights than sit through the two hour flick I saw.

Though I'll definitely be checking out your review...

Ed Howard said...

I'm not praising it because it's shot in nice-looking places, I'm praising it because Tykwer shoots those nice-looking places in ways that enhance and deliver his central theme, namely the powerlessness of the individual in the face of institutional corruption. Every scene is patiently set up with these long establishing shots, making location and architecture as important as people. I'll admit, the pleasures of the film are largely abstract and formal rather than narrative, but they're valid pleasures.

I would also never call it "laughably bad" even on a narrative level: it's a standard thriller elevated by Tykwer's visual style.

Sarah said...

I think I'll forego the agony of seeing "The International."

Thanks, Fletch! That's what a good film review is all about.

Fletch said...

Ed, I do see your point, and think it's valid, but I did in fact find the plot and writing to be pretty awful, so much so that any visual appeal was insufficient to change my decision on the movie. Perhaps short films are more Tykwer's stlye, in that case - such aesthetics are bound to be more impactful in them.

Fletch said...

Oh, and thanks Sarah!

Farzan said...

Interesting review Fletch, I had a feeling this movie wasnt up to the right stuff. It looked like an action thriller that we have seen before. Ill probably wait for the DVD/Blu Ray version before taking a chance with it.

Daniel Getahun said...

Ugh, what a disaster of a movie. Still stings after two weeks.

That's all the energy I'm going to spend talking or thinking about it - here or elsewhere.