Have you ever had the chance to see an advanced screening of a soon-to-be-released film? If not, here’s what you do. Go to your local large college and find out where they show films on campus. Chances are good that they will have a list of movies they are showing, some of which are movies that won’t be released in theaters for a week or two. If they don’t do that, go to the University of Colorado in Boulder because they do. My neighbor gave me the ticket (it was free by the way) and turned out to be in one of the lecture halls. As I sat there among a bunch of college freshman, I remembered that this was actually the second time I had seen an advanced screening of a film, the other being “Mystery, Alaska.” I was also flooded with a thousand memories of school as I stared at giant periodic tables on the wall.
Surprisingly, the lecture hall was not full. What the hell is wrong with these kids? Apparently, CU has the most dedicated students in the country (or they were busy smoking pot; it is Boulder). Unfortunately for them, they missed a decent movie.
“The International” is a typical thriller with the typical evil organization. This time, the organization is an international bank with hooks into just about everything. Clive Owen plays Lou, an Interpol agent who has spent the last couple of years trying to take down this bank. Simple, right? Well hang on, I haven’t actually told you the plot yet. The bank wants to control debt, so they are brokering an arms deal to sell missile guidance systems, so they can sell small arms to a Liberian general, so the general can stage a coup, proving to the world’s aspiring warlords what they can do and becoming the leading distributor of Chinese weapons. Got it? That’s okay, neither do I.
The best way to view this movie is to try not to think too hard about the motives of the bank. I think the writers were trying to connect with the audience through the current economic turmoil, not realizing that the average moviegoer can barely remember how to write a check, let alone understand the inner workings of the banking industry. Just remember: bank bad, Clive Owen and Naomi Watts good.
Confusing plot aside, this movie had many positive aspects. I thought the acting was particularly good, especially on the part of Owen. This isn’t all that surprising considering he’s played the same character in most of his recent films. I just enjoy that he seems to get better with each one. Watts was also good, although I thought she was somewhat underused. Most of her scenes didn’t do much to move the story forward, with the exception of her revelation of using the cameras in the airport to identify a suspect.
The flow of the movie was also very good. As complicated as the plot was, they tried not to gloss over anything and each scene flowed well into the next, answering our questions as it went along. Even the action scenes, which tend to be just filler and eye candy, had meaning and kept the story moving. Although, the shootout in the Guggenheim was slightly overdone, ending in a completely useless pan of all of the damage that was done.
My favorite aspect was the black and white theme sprinkled throughout the film. They used it most heavily when portraying the bank and its associates. In one scene, the head of the bank is speaking to the other four while they are on a split screen. Three of them are wearing black and one is wearing white. The one in white warns them not to go down a certain path, which they proceed to ignore. Guess which one of them ends up helping Owen. Another example is with their assassin. We see him three times in the film and he is wearing black in the first two. The third time, the bank tries to kill him and he is wearing a white bulletproof vest. By the way, this symbolism was much easier to follow than the plot.
As I said before, the film follows a fairly typical plot that is utilized by most thrillers of this nature. As with most Clive Owen films though, it doesn’t end with a truly happy ending. I’d try to explain, but it’s too complicated.
Rating: This one’s tough. It wasn’t quite good enough for full price, but it was a little better than a matinee. You should probably ask for a couple dollars back just for when they hit Naomi Watts with a car.