Account balance: ka-billions. Ethics and morality: zip.
But the clickety-clack of laptop keys, and all those download bars inching across computer screens, don't exactly make for adrenaline-fueled cinema. And it doesn't help to have Clive Owen - as an Interpol cop with a three-day stubble and a fixed, fidgety look that crosses hangover and rage - chasing down various money men, only to be told to cool his heels in the lobby. Or to go meet with some underling instead.
There's lots of imposing modern architecture in The International, and scenes of Owen and Naomi Watts - as a New York assistant D.A. helping out on the case - walking to and from towering glass-and-steel edifices. (There's only the slightest hint of romance between the two stars - Watts' character is married. And it's not much of a role for the actress, who seems to be on hand mainly to expedite, and nag.)
The film's big action centerpiece, in fact, is held in the vertiginous rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright's Manhattan landmark, the Guggenheim. It's a shoot-out that catches museumgoers in the crossfire, while the art on the walls - a series of giant video installations - supply an ironic animated backdrop for the ricocheting mayhem.
So, yes, there is gunplay (the Guggenheim firefight goes on so long, you start wondering why the NYPD haven't shown up). And there are car chases and foot chases, and - befitting the film's title - numerous sites in Berlin, Istanbul, London and Milan to consider.
But where Run Lola Run was like a perpetual-motion machine, The International seems to forever be stopping in its own tracks. Tykwer takes coffee breaks to explain the convoluted and dicey plot (sinister bankers orchestrate a political assassination in Italy in order to complete a weapons deal with a rogue African despot). The director pauses to study Owen and Watts as they text-message and check their voice mail. And then there are the occasions when Owen, as temperamental agent Louis Salinger, drops into his office and starts surveying the photographs and newspaper clippings he's affixed to his office wall.
Well, thumb-tacking, at least.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or email@example.com.