26 January 2010 | secondtake
Conventional for Tykwer means still among the best of this formulaic type of corporate espionage flick
The International (2009)
We can't expect every Tom Tykwer film to be as inventive or intense as Run Lola Run or The Princess and the Warrior, and The International feels almost like a breather, an intentional turn at a conventional film. It's an espionage and high stakes international drama with guns and deceit and a pair of very distinctly good good guys played by Clive Owen (brilliantly) and Naomi Watts (unconvincingly...probably just miscast). And overall it's completely enjoyable and slick, well paced, and beautifully filmed, of course.
The plot is one of those sprawling, behind-the-scenes conspiracy, third world, big money scenarios that must have shades of truth, or lots of truth, but gets simplified into a handful of bad guys and a parade of exotic locales (including the inevitable Third World warlord who is an intelligent and willing pawn in the whole game). What I mean is, the plot almost doesn't matter in the details, though it's interesting, and makes you think and worry a little about the world we live in. It's more how the heroes unfold the facts of the plot, against the odds, the clock ticking, that make the movie good. If you liked the Bourne movies (which are as a whole probably faster and more edgy) or Syriana (which is actually kind of similar in feel overall, Clooney substituted for Owen), this will really suit you.
And there is a Tykwer twist now and then, a camera with unusual fluidity, or a scene that gets replayed and rethought. Of course, the hugely complicated shootout in the Guggenheim is a masterpiece of excessive and brilliant kinetic filming. For an amazing short video on the building of the sets for this shoot (yes, it wasn't at the real Gug), go to www.firstshowing.net and type guggenheim tykwer.
In all? The best of it is worth the worst of it. A tightly made and not overly preposterous dip into a well stocked pond.