The International




Critics' choice
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First published on . Updated on 16 Apr 2010.

Tykwer never saw a glass partition he didn’t want to film, but there’s something bracing about seeing his reflex glossiness (Run Lola Run, Heaven) applied to a pure genre exercise. This particular Parallax View knockoff has been directed with an almost mathematical sleekness: the gods always descend on cue, and the gripping central set piece answers the question: ‘How many people can trail an assassin around the Guggenheim without being spotted?’

Still, even classed up with Clive and Naomi, the story – inspired by an actual 1991 scandal – seems slightly confused and dated. With idiots getting fat off bailouts, the idea of bankers who command global hit squads suggests a competence worthy of nostalgia. Owen, sporting a permanent day-and-a-half’s worth of stubble, plays a traumatised Interpol agent; New York assistant district attorney Watts tags along, mainly for the purpose of having her jurisdiction questioned at every stop.

The International is strongest at hands-on intrigue, teaching us how to analyse bullet trajectories and footprints. But first-time screenwriter Eric Warren Singer also leans heavily on contrivance. ‘Talk to me after the speech,’ a politician advises our heroes, the better to give the villains an opportunity to shoot him. With plot devices like that, it’s amazing how far style will go.

Words by:

Ben Kenigsberg
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The International details

Length: 118 minutes

Country of origin: USA/Germany/UK

Year of production: 2009

Director: Tom Tykwer

Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller- Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen.

The International trailer

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