Clive Owen fails to convince in ‘The International’

The previews for “The International” promise you edge-of-your-seat thrills, nonstop action and an allegory for the world wide financial mess we
find ourselves in. The film delivers none of this.

The film centers around an international banking conspiracy perpetrated by a bank based in Luxembourg.

The two lead characters, played by Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, have information detailing the bank’s arms trading,  destabilization of governments and money laundering, but no way to bring the bank down.

The action comes in bursts and is of no ingenuity or complexity. Since “The Matrix” made it impossible to top any gunslinger scene, many movies have tried and some have come close, but “The International” doesn’t even make an honest attempt. The line “the perfect thriller for our times,” appears on the TV spots. Most people are used to being lied to by their television, but this is outrageous. The film attempts to be very lyrical and poetic in what appeared to be an allegory for the economic meltdown, but the only portion of this allegory that made sense was the line ‘debt is power’, the explanation for this being too convoluted to grasp. Based on the rest of the film, it’s not worth a second viewing to try to grasp it.

Naomi Watts stars as Clive Owen’s crime fighting partner. In the world of action thrillers, there is a lot of tough guy police dialogue, interrogating witnesses and so forth. Watts fails to deliver the lines with any persuasion, her performance feels contrived and completely lacking in effort.

Owen, on the other hand, with a long resume of action films, delivers his lines with conviction. But as most of the dialogue is so cliché, even from an action thriller standpoint, no  actor could make you believe this script.

The movie’s thrills are best enjoyed resting your head on the back of your seat, or perhaps most enjoyable on your feet while walking out of the theater.

Granted, American cinema has turned into one sprawling blood bath. But the thrill of the shootouts is missing from this film.

The biggest hole in the movie is that it leaves the viewer asking, ‘why take down the bank?’

“The Matrix” had a similar problem: If the machines control the world and implant reality into your head, why destroy the machines? The movie is not without a point, but it is a point that had been made by many films before: If you destroy evil man, there will be a thousand prospectors, a thousand times worse, ready to take his place.

“The International” wastes  118 minutes of your life and I give it two out of five stars. Leave the Jean-Claude Van Dammes of the world to tend to this relic of cinema and leave relatively prestigious actors like Clive Owen out of it.

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