'International' has some serious bankers

Posted: February 12, 2009

They say the solution to our current financial predicament is a new "bad bank," though I doubt it will be as bad as the bank in "The International."

This purported thriller stars Clive Owen as a obsessive Interpol investigator convinced that a global banking conglomerate is assassinating people as it works to consolidate a deal to provide arms to an African insurgency.

Interpol believes the arms deal is part of a pattern by which the bank uses transactions to seek long-term leverage over people in power.

The movie is being hailed as timely because its villains are bankers, the very people blamed for creating our real-life economic crisis.

I don't feel resonance.

The movie's villains are powerful, supremely competent evil-genius types, whereas actual bankers are now completely impotent, and have been revealed to be not so much evil as slothful, stupid and incompetent.

As such, they are now in hock to the world's governments, which is to say its taxpayers.

In "The International," the true villains are those who control the debt, and I guess in the real world that is . . . us?

We should be so lucky as to have bankers like the ruthless blond Aryans in "The International."

If they had found they'd paid full price for AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities actually worth 22 cents on the dollar, they'd have murdered every executive at Moody's and Lehman Brothers, then dismembered John Thain and stuffed him into his antique French commode.

After killing him with a cyanide injection to the back of the neck - the method of termination used in "The International."

Everytime Owen's character gets close to recruiting an informant, a mysterious hit man intervenes to erase the human evidence.

Interpol gets a lead on the hit man, and, working with a Manhattan D.A. (Naomi Watts) manages to track the man to the bank's shadowy security chief (Armin Mueller- Stahl), hoping to crack the case that way.

The movie's theory of insidious capitalism is mildly interesting, but there are no interesting relationships to make it meaningful.

Owen's character is a lone wolf, his relationship with Watts is blandly platonic, and his professional crusade has none of the urgency of say, Jason Bourne's (whose series this movie apes as it hops from Europe to Turkey to Manhattan, etc.).

Without people or characters to draw us in, who cares?

The movie's high point is a gigantic shootout at the Guggenheim, where many faceless gunmen perish, though not before they destroy a pretentious video installation, the most thrilling moment in the movie. *

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