The International

The International (2009) movie poster

(2009) dir. Tom Tykwer
viewed: 07/24/09

The International is a silly thriller about an evil bank, run by evil people, who kill anyone who finds out about the fact that they buy and sell weapons from Asia and the Middle East, funnelled toward Africa, manipulating politics, and keeping a firm grip on the megalithic industry.  And while all of this stuff is coated in secrecy, one rogue agent for Interpol, played by Clive Owen, is set to bring them down.

The film is silly.  One of the quotes about why they are so powerful and why it’s not about money, per se, is one of the potential wise good guys tells Owen, “He who controls the debt, controls the world.”  And while I’m not going to argue that in some sectors of the world this perspective may be apt, it’s sort of also the hollow foolishness of this evil bank concept, though apparently, the film’s concept was based on a bank, BCCI, Bank of Credit & Commerce International, which did practice dubious and evil things, though not up to Hollywoodizational evil things.

One of the other key silly points I noted is that when Owen returns to his apartment to “chill out”, he opens his freezer, which contains 5 or so bags of ice (and nothing else) and commences to fill his kitchen sink with ice and water, to allow for the shot from below, so we can see his submerged face in the ice and air bubbling from his nose.  It all happens kind of fast, and it’s a meaningless scene (other than his flashback attempts to recollect an assassination that he’d witnessed), but what the hell.  Why would anyone keep 5 bags of ice in their fridge like that?  I don’t know.  It struck me as funny.

A bloodbath shootout in the Guggenheim, well, if that didn’t attract attention to the evil bank, it’s hard to know what would.  But still, Owen has to go pretty far, back to Milan, I think, to confront the #1 baddie himself.  And in the confrontation the bad guy tells him, “If you kill me, there will be many more bankers just waiting to take my place…”  And this gives Owen pause for thought, “it’s an institution.  This is just a man.  What am I up against?”  Evil bankers across the world?

Director Tom Tykwer made a splash with Run Lola Run (1998) and has made a functional thriller to an extent, but one that’s based on such ludicrous and convoluted backstory that even the surface reflects its inanity.  It’s not unwatchable, but it’s just full of holes, and no matter the current backlash at the banking industry, it’s hard to imagine that a movie like this captures any sense of zeitgeist.

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