“The International” (2009)

InternationalCan I write a review of a movie I haven’t seen from the beginning? In this case, I can! Here’s how it was. I sneaked into a screening of this movie ‘cause a friend of mine recommended to me one scene. After I watched this particular scene, I didn’t want to leave the room.

I started watching “The International” from the moment of the “airport speech” scene. I watched the whole speech, and then was dumb-struck by the assassination. I didn’t know the whole story just yet, but I immediately felt it had to be a very good movie. Everything played well there: the plot, the action sequences, the music, the direction.

As far as the plot is concerned, there’s a certain irony. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis, and the movie talks about enormous banking corporations controlling the world. I actually realized that, when I read it on IMDB. However, what we’re presented in the movie is the other side of the story (other than in the news). We see it from the inside. We see one man (everyman?) standing against a banking leviathan. Almost, one man against the whole world. It’s a well-known theme restated occasionally in movies (and not only in movies, of course). “The International” takes this theme, and wraps it up in a fascinating, absorbing, dynamic, and intelligent packaging.

I love the fact that everything in this movie is in its rightful place. The story is engrossing, and quite intellectually stimulating. The cast is well-chosen. The locations change many times, adding to the movie’s dynamic character. The music serves as a background to the actions of the characters. The action is fast-paced and unpredictable till the very end.

One of the most brilliant moments is the shooting in the Guggenheim Museum (that’s the famous scene I mentioned). It is a definite tribute to “Heat.” I watched it with my eyes wide open. It isn’t a mere exchange of fire. It is an artistically-presented shooting sequence. Visually, it looks amazing. The oval of the gallery, and the breaking of the hanging glass windows. The violent dialogue between the protagonist and the hitmen. A human drama taking place in a modernly-designed gallery. Spectacular! I also like the way Salinger (Clive Owen) and the IBBC assassin collaborated. It’s both surprising and fascinating to watch.

There is one theme that especially struck me. I call it a “surprise shooting” theme. It recurred in the movie many times. I noticed it for the first time during the Milan airport assassination. There was one killer, who I assumed was the only assassin; however, he missed his target, Umberto Calvini. All of a sudden, someone else shot Calvini. I didn’t expect such a turn of events (considering the fact I just started watching). We had another example during the museum shooting sequence. At first, it was quite obvious that the IBBC assassin was shot dead (I didn’t anticipate him wearing a bulletproof vest). Later on, it turned out he wasn’t dead. Instead, he was alive, and on top of that he saved Salinger’s life by shooting one of the hitmen. The theme’s also showed at the very end – when I thought Salinger was going to kill Skarssen, somebody else pulled the trigger. Altogether, it adds drama and dynamism to the movie.

As for the cast, I’d like to point out one thing I noticed (and not only me). Clive Owen, a very good actor by the way, looked exactly the same as in “Children of Men.” I don’t know whether he intentionally chooses parts where he can look like that, or not. By like that, I mean the looks of a drunkard in an old coat after a long and rough night. One way or another, it’s what I see when I think of Owen.

I’d like to dwell on an issue I mentioned several paragraphs before: the theme of ‘one man against the evil corporation.’ Most of the story is devoted to virtually one man’s struggle to bring down what (let’s face it) cannot be brought down. In all this, the most interesting to watch is the twist in the plot when this struggle becomes a personal vendetta for the protagonist. Salinger stopped being an Interpol agent, someone who had to go by the book. Only then did he have a chance of succeeding. Did he win? I believe the question remains unanswered. After all, it wasn’t he who killed Skarssen. Moreover, IBBC kept on prospering. Yet, I wouldn’t go as far as to say he failed. He witnessed the end of the affair he wanted to end. That’s all.

All in all, the movie was great. It kept me in suspense till the end. The Guggenheim Museum shooting sequence was simply perfect. I relished every minute of it. “The International” is undoubtedly worth watching.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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