I’m ridiculously late with my review of The International, but I figured it was necessary since Tom Tykwer was at one stage one of my favourite directors. Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt), The Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin), Heaven and even his segment in Paris, je t’aime were all perfect films in my book, yet Perfume: The Story of a Murderer left me cold.
He’s produced another competent yet generally uninspired flick with The International, a thriller featuring Clive Owen repeating himself as a driven loner with a gun. Okay, so that description is a little gauche, but he really has been doing the same thing for years now. Here he’s an Interpol agent hell-bent on exposing the heads of one of the world’s largest banks for the greedy, ruthless manipulators that they are. He’s perfect for the role, but as I said we’ve seen this before.
He’s supported by Naomi Watts, who is strangely… awful. A lot of it has to do with the screenplay, which often gives her the most banal of lines, but it’s astounding to watch. The quality of the film drops noticeably whenever she’s on screen, which is crazy cos her ability can’t be denied (see King Kong for possibly her best performance). Armin Mueller-Stahl is one of the bank’s key players, and whilst he is cast once again as the ‘European’ character (his accent is good enough for the entire continent, apparently) he brings a gravitas to his scenes that is astonishing.
Tykwer keeps the pace moving at high speed, something he’s adept at (even in slower films such as Heaven) and The International is certainly entertaining. There is a brilliant scene in Guggenheim that is sure to become an instant classic, but the climax of the film is disappointing to say the least. To the film’s credit, it does honour its premise. The screenplay feels genuine and realistic, which perhaps denied a more grandiose final act. For things to be a little more thrilling it would have had to break its own rules, but at the same time it’s quite a let down.
There is one thing that still sets the director apart. Tykwer sure knows how to shoot concrete. I know of no other director that manages to make otherwise dull architecture seem so damn sexy. The International is flashy and enjoyable, but a little too realistic to be a smash at the box office.Rating: