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International, The


Stars: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Michel Voletti, Brian F O'Byrne, Jay Villiers

Director: Tom Tykwer

Not Clive Owen's finest hour. The Oscar-nominated British hunk loses the battle with some deadly dialogue in this Euro-pudding of a thriller in which international bankers are the villains. No surprise there then. 'This is the essence of the banking industry,' Owen's Interpol agent is told. 'To make us all slaves to debt.'

The huge IBBC banking complex, based in Berlin, takes things a step farther by brokering arms deals to the bad guys of the world. Everyone who threatens their illegal activities is ruthlessly eliminated. Except Owen, of course. And pretty New York Assistant DA Watts.

Alas, when the film is not dealing in exclamatory cliches that drop from Owen's lips like spent bullet cases, it spouts familiar aphorisms pretending to be new and meaningful. 'Sometimes a man can meet his destiny on the road he took to avoid it' or 'Sometimes in life the hardest thing to know is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.'

There's an assassin (O'Byrne) on the loose to deal with loose ends, though why he takes off his bullet proof vest after his own side tries to exterminate him can only be explained by furtherance of narrative. Watts is better than Owen, and Mueller-Stahl better still as a disillusioned old banker who may be the weak link Owen's looking for.

Highlight of the action is a fierce and prolonged shoot-out along the spiral galleries of New York's Guggenheim museum (or a re-creation thereof), where untold damage is done to life, limb and museum alike.

David Quinlan

USA/Germany/Turkey/Italy 2009. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 22 Feb 2009