Tulsa TV Memories      

"The International" poster

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

If you haven't seen enough credit card debt consolidation commercials on your TV screen to know that going into deep personal debt isn't cool, try buying a ticket to "The International." Down deep in the movie which stars Brit-born actors, Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, it's revealed that mega-sized financial institutions control nearly everything through debt.

Along with Goethe, "The International" further advises that making a deal with the devil will cost you your soul. That's not a new notion, of course, but one that fits well within the environs of this action/thriller, directed by Tom Tykwer.

Eric Singer's script is fraught with very big operators up to their ear lobes in weapons trading, money laundering and destabilizing governments; all of which brings on copious collateral damage . The dialogue is heavy-laden, as well, with references to actual nations and the time is set right now---here. Well, mostly in the fancy edifices and bleak streets of New York City, Berlin, Milan and Istanbul.

Defining "The International" further: the film feels like a television series police-procedural with a stiff dash of 007, minus the traditional Bondian caricaturing. Tykwer's "International" is dead serious, downbeat at times and (dare I mention?) depressing.

Owen, an Interpol agent, and Watts, an assistant DA (out of New York), are in league to get the goods on a mega-bank with financial tentacles that grip so much more than what meets the eye. There's no hanky-panky in the collaboration of Ms. Watts and Mr. Owen, though. It's all strictly for the nabbing of financial bad guys.

Suspense in the film is sustained well in some places, such as a public figure's assassination that toys with how many assassins are involved (no grassy knoll), as well as, at the film's open, the curious curbside murder of a solitary agent working with Owen's character.

Halfway into this 2-hour movie, a shoot-out scene filmed at New York's Guggenheim Museum would have worked better if the background music used had been Isham Jones' oldie, "Why Can't This Night Go On Forever?" That's about how long director Tykwer seemed to want to let the bullets keep flying. The amount of ammo spent for all the arty gun play fails to keep the suspense from sagging.

Clive Owen
Clive Owen

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts

Clive Owen and Naomi Watts are solid actors with the proper charisma for their characters. Ms. Watts' chatter sounds like it's all American. Owen maintains his accent and some of the other players keep more of their accents than they really should, maybe.

Playing one of the more significant men of mystery in "International," Armin Mueller-Stahl gives an intense and measured performance, but you'll have to listen closely when he speaks in order to get all of his utterances.

Besides a load of debt consolidation commercials in the media these days, I've noticed a marked increase in ads for sleeping aids, as well. It seems these financial services and the products designed to curtail insomnia are becoming more in demand as employment figures skydive off of the graph.

So if you want to have a good night's sleep after an evening out at the movies, you may want to drift on over, instead, to another auditorium in your cineplex that's now showing the Jennifer Aniston date movie or one of those pictures meant to be funny. You know, like the ones with David Spade.


"EverybodyPays.com" - official movie site

Opens wide Feb. 13

Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times

Gary Chew can be reached at: garychew@comcast.net

Copyright © 2009, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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