Written by Eric Warren Singer

Directed by Tom Tykwer

 Clive Owen, Naomi Watts



The International




All right, I’ll confess: I’m a Tom Tykwer fan.  He’s the writer-director of such delicious films as “Run Lola Run” and “Deadly Maria,” and the much more serious and incredibly powerful “The Princess and the Warrior” and “Heaven,” the last from a Krzystof Kieslowski script..   But his two most recent films, the 2007 “Perfume” and his current film “The International” are so boring as to be almost unwatchable.  “The International” pits Clive Owen and Naomi Watts against, well, a bank that seems to run the world.  Located in Luxembourg, the IBBC if you’re keeping track, has assassins and arms deals galore, and easily kills anyone who tries to stop them.  Only Interpol Major Louis Salinger (Owen) and New York District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts) are apparently the two people trying to stop them.  I can understand Interpol, but the New York District Attorney’s office? 


Nevertheless, the film brings the two together, trying to find a way into the bank’s nefarious schemes; but somehow everyone they get hold of dies by an assassin’s bullet or poison in a matter of minutes.  The script, by a first-time writer named Eric Warren Singer, is so loaded down with clichés it’s liable to sink of its own weight before anything meaningful happens.  Owen and Watts race from one European city to another (one critic has suggested that they must have achieved Platinum status by now), plus a trip to New York (maybe they needed the miles) where the script has Owen confront the bad guys in, yes, the Guggenheim.  Otherwise the film lurches from city to city and setting to setting, usually a very very modern skyscraper, but never getting closer to letting us understand what’s happening and bringing some kind of closure to the plot.  There’s just no internal logic to it all.  In fact, after the film ends – without a resolution – we are treated to newspaper headlines on screen that tell us the future lives of IBBC and its schemes.  Is this an attempt at breaking the mold of a conventional international spy film?  Back to screenwriting school, Mr. Singer.


I wish I could say that I spotted some delicious Tykwer touches in “The International,” like an unexpected comic moment, or a bizarre non-sequitur dropped in the middle of a tense moment, but it seems that Tykwer just grinds endlessly at his unwieldy plot.  I even found myself nodding off a couple of times; when I woke I was watching the same scene, just a different city.