The International (Review)

Clive Owen anchors Tom Twyker's compelling thriller

Feb 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm

What could have been a standard global game of chase is elevated to thinking-man’s-thriller level thanks to the visual sophistication and sensual exploration of German directing wunderkind Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume).

With Clive Owen leading the chase as an Interpol agent seeking to take down a rogue international bank, this would-be Bourne adventure nicely incorporates enough actual procedural elements (think CSI and Law & Order) to engage a broader audience. Owen’s agent teams up with a Manhattan district attorney (Naomi Watts) to follow the trail of assassinations and arms sales around the world with a stunning set piece that takes place in the Guggenheim that literally shoots the lights out of anything audiences will see this early in the movie season. But Tykwer doesn’t forget that action takes place in more than a vacuum — we have to want to follow the clues as the bodies pile up (and there are lots of bodies and place-holding characters).

Instead of the frenetic pacing of the Bourne films or the rebourne Bond flicks, Tykwer settles into sharp and simple frames that cue us into the correct European mood so that there’s no overdone Eurotrash vibe. And Owen, who has done time as a Bourne player along with being a finalist for the Bond identity, displays a degree of harried world-weariness befitting an obsessive rather than a super spy. Grade: B