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February 12, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CST
With the rotten economy currently stealing the spotlight, it makes sense for movies to capitalize on the situation by turning real-life drama into the on-screen variety. It’s too bad, then, that The International, a movie based on Americans’ worst fears, a corrupt bank, doesn’t make bank.
In a plot spanning enough countries to earn its movie title, Clive Owen plays the intense, obsessive Interpol agent Louis Salinger hot on the trail of the illegally arms-dealing International Bank of Business and Credit.
He’s tried and failed to catch the rogue bank before, but pairing up with New York district attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), Salinger travels the globe tracking down enough evidence to legally condemn the bank once and for all. As the pair makes its way, Owen’s frequent, cheesy one-liners are about as exciting as a bounced check.
The International tries its hardest to corner the modern market on intrigue and suspense, and at times it succeeds. There’s an awesome shoot-em-up scene at the Guggenheim, for instance, but it uses up most of the movie’s good-scene savings.
Director Tom Tykwer, the man behind Run, Lola, Run has created a beautifully shot film with a wealth of eye-catching scenes, but much of the movie could play like a sequel — Run, Clive, Run is nowhere near as interesting. The International’s few action scenes hinge on Owen’s solo efforts alone, and much of the movie’s dramatic politics are hindered by an overabundance of office settings and meetings between heavily accented European officials. Maybe the real action’s on loan.