Clive Owen and Naomi Watts star in this action thriller set in the world of high finance. When obsessive Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Owen) joins forces with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts) to target corruption and international arms dealing within one of the world's most powerful banking institutions, the pair soon find themselves caught in a deadly cat-and-mouse chase across the globe.
is actually two movies in one: A highbrow thriller about a sprawling bank that resorts to murder and arms sales to retain its power, and a sleek visual essay on how architecture and interior design shapes your perceptions. Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen, still not quite a star despite Inside Man and Children of Men) has been on the brink of conclusive evidence against the villainous international bank, but his sources always end up dead. With the aid of a Manhattan district attorney (Naomi Watts in a woefully underwritten part), he stumbles on the trail of the bank's favorite hit man, who might provide the (literally) smoking gun Louis needs. The International
starts out smooth and silky, with visual style to burn and Owen's intense fervor. The plot gradually bogs down in incoherent moralising, but along the way there are some taut sequences, including a bloody shootout in the Guggenheim Museum where alliances shift unexpectedly. But what makes The International
worth seeing is director Tom Tykwer's astute eye for public space: Chic postmodern buildings, broad Italian plazas, Turkish rooftops like mountain paths--Tykwer orchestrates actors through these architectural shapes, his hypnotic visual sense creating far more tension and excitement than the plot. Also featuring Armin Mueller-Stahl (Eastern Promises) and Ulrich Thomsen (The Celebration) as malevolent Europeans. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from The International (click for larger image)