The International (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The International</strong> (2009)

(In theaters, February 2009) Such is the randomness of filmmaking: Five month’s worth can make all the difference between banks-as-invincible-entities and banks-as-bailout-beggars. Which is unfortunate, because a thriller based on the idea of a bank going rogue and severely punishing anyone looking into it isn’t necessarily bad (heck, it even happened with BCCI, which shares a suspicious number of letters with this film’s IBBC), and The International is as it bests when it realistically grapples with how to expose international money-for-weapons schemes. Clive Owen is irreproachable as the rumpled hero in the middle of it all, but one can’t say the same thing about a film that doesn’t quite know what to make of itself. Rumors of extensive re-shoots may explain the abrupt and inconsequential action sequences, including a spectacular-but-nonsensical shootout at the Guggenheim museum. At least the rest of the film offers a few real-life visual thrills as it hops between Europe and New York, delivering a procedural thriller whose flaws don’t quite match its strengths. A few ideas are wasted, and the conclusion is a bit of a downer. It all makes up for a middle-of-the-road thriller, promising but ultimately too scattered to be efficient. It may be respectable for what it tries to achieve, but sadly it doesn’t seem determined to get there.

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