Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diminishing Returns; the Tension Wanes in Thriller about International Bank That's Up to No Good

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Diminishing Returns; the Tension Wanes in Thriller about International Bank That's Up to No Good

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

"The International" has a beginning that's so tense, so atmospheric, it just might make you put down the Junior Mints in anticipation: We are in for a terrific, smart international thriller.

It's sad to report that the rest of the film can't quite live up to that, and you'll soon be munching again as the tension subsides a little and the intrigue starts getting tangled up in itself. And "The International" really runs out of gas toward the end, limping to the finish line.

Oh well. Think of it as the cinematic equivalent of a chunky paperback thriller that gets you through a week-long holiday. There's something to be said for that. Even at its weakest, the film is still slick and grown up, with plenty of good moments to redeem the merely proficient ones.

Start with Clive Owen, which is always a good place to start. He's the evocatively named Salinger, a Scotland Yard vet who's now a hard-driving Interpol agent. He's dark, brutal, bruised and utterly driven.

In that aforementioned first scene, he's an onlooker to an apparent heart attack, which strikes a fellow investigator who's just met with a possible informer. But could it really be murder? You bet. Salinger begins to dig - and that leads to an international conspiracy involving a posh European bank, illegal weapons, the Mafia and terrorists.

Eric Warren Singer's script moves the action around to Berlin, New York, Lyon, Milan, Luxembourg and Istanbul. Let's admire it for its big goals, but admit that it can't quite reach them: It wants to be serious and timely and thrilling as well, and it comes up short and a little murky.

Still, let's be grateful that "The International" is not just "Bourne"-wannabe. It's directed by German Tom Twyker, whose far more frenetic and poetic "Run Lola Run" remains high up on my favorite movies list. …

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