Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Movie Review: The International (2009)
Besides his short appearance in The Bourne Identity (2002), this is my first introduction to actor Clive Owen. Concerning the acting and the film itself, I was quite pleased.
Film-wise, what can be expected is a fast-paced, engaging (although admittedly confusing) thinker-film. The first time I saw it, I was incredibly confused; upon watching it a second time, I understood it much better and caught all the little nuances. (So, if you have trouble the first time around, give it another shot.)
Synopsis: Interpol agent Louis Salinger's (Clive Owen) life revolves around cases concerning the shady IBBC (International Bank of Business and Credit). Add international intrigue, politics, informants, arms deals, assassins, and guns and that's basically all you need to know.
Although not quite as broad of a "conspiracy" as it might appear from those who have only been exposed to hype and taglines, the viewer still is provided a worthy plot to chew on. While I don't for a minute buy the massively implicating comment made by one character, "...this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.", I very much enjoyed this one. (I hope the filmmakers also do not believe this themselves?)
From the very beginning until the very end, you have to see what happens in the end, and the twists and turns on the way keep you guessing and guessing. As a moviegoer, I really like that once in a while. Without revealing plot there is little one can say besides that this was a good one. (To be honest, the ending was rather strange. The first go-around I felt quite cheated, as if I'd been given three-quarters of a movie, but when I watched it the second time, it came off much better.)
As to Clive Owen's acting, I was unexpectedly impressed! It wasn't that I was expecting something poorer, it was that I just wasn't expecting much of anything. He gave an excellent performance that draws you into the story, and what's more, the whole time you can't shake the feel of man. That's to say, his character acting was quite the manly performance. That is a definite plus in this world of Shia LeBoufs and Leonardo DiCaprios, and it's something I always appreciate (a fact you may be able to tell if you had me choose a favorite actor--Christian Bale anyone?). He pulled of a smooth, yet very intense and gritty style of manliness that was a a real good one to watch. I'm excited to see him in some more films.
On top of that, Spencer was most pleased with the gunfight. Yes, there was only one, but what a one it was! Placed inside the architectually-engaging Guggenheim museum, with multiple gunners and an unusual twist, this was one gunfight that fans of combat sequences in films should not miss. Worth watching the entire film just for that!
Issue-wise, we had a bit of language, only one reference to sex, and, for those who it bothers, one scene with lots of blood (pierced artery). Beyond this, the film raised one other questionable issue.
[SPOILER WARNING] Near the end of the film, Salinger is confronted with the facts that he can never take down the corrupt, murderous IBBC and its constituents inside legal boundaries. Hamstrung by any and all authorities and with a "price" on his head, plus countless other innocents murdered or in danger of being so (women and children included), Salinger listens to one man offer his aid in taking down the bank, but with just one hitch--all of it must be done outside the law. Salinger agrees. By the end of it, he sees what the man meant when he said that collateral damage would occur, and what's more, he almost kills an unarmed man (the fact that this man deserved it is less convincing compared to the fact that he was trying to have Salinger killed). He doesn't, in the end, but I was somewhat disappointed to see him sacrifice any principles at all. Sure, the world's better off with him dead, but such killings are simply not my style. Still, all this raises a good question for us to mull over; when even the authorities are corrupt and something must be done to curb a great evil, what does one do?
Overall, this was one good flick, one I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys to think during their man movies.