Friday, 6 March 2009

'The International' Review

Last night, in the plush viewing theatre at Sony Pictures London office, I was treated to a private screening of ‘The International’. Firstly, it’s a great cinema – the kind I dreamt about having in my house when I was younger (before the walls of reality came crashing down around me). The seats are HUGE, the leg room putting business class airline seats to shame and oh, did I mention the free food and drink? No? Well, there was plenty. Anyway, I digress before I’ve even started. Let’s get to the review of the film before you all think I’m bragging (which I am).

I knew next to nothing about the film before I saw it. The plot in the The International revolves around an Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and an Assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts) determined to expose corrupt dealings in one of the world's most powerful banks. What’s this I thought to myself? Banks? Dodgy dealings? Is this a film or a documentary? The timing of the film’s release is exquisite given the current predicament of the global economy and those naughty bankers to blame. There are illegal activities galore - arms trading, murder and conspiracies to control governments. This film has it all. It’s certainly not a happy film. In fact its overall tone is very dark and depressing – you get a real sense that nothing will change and the poor good guy who wants justice will actually never win. Art imitating life perhaps?

The film itself is an odd mix of exhilarating 80% of the time (my heart was pounding in some brilliant set pieces) and then oddly flat. It could have been a great film but instead it will be one that divides public opinion. You’ll either like it or hate it. It’s certainly not for everyone. The Director (Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame) does a fine job in maintaining the pace of the film on the whole but only manages to muster some inconsistent acting from his two leads. Naomi Watts is largely wasted. Hardly any character development at all and really it’s no more than a short supporting role. No bad thing as I think she is pretty over rated as an actress (I can hear my fellow blogger Munial spluttering into his tea). This means Owen has to carry the film on his own. He almost manages this but at times the delivery of his lines are so deadpan, so unemotional and stilted. Come on Clive, I know you can do better - Children of Men being a good example. The supporting cast led by the ever reliable Armin Mueller-Stahl is excellent. The script is top-notch, almost minimalist at times and I’ve already recycled a few quotes from the film (always a good sign).

So, despite my criticisms above, I did enjoy the film thoroughly. I found it to be intelligent, thought provoking but/and ultimately depressing. A feel good movie it is not. Well worth watching in the cinema.

1 comment:

Munial said...

*£%Splutter!$!* Naomi Watts is a goddess and a thespianic titan!