After a shocking murder, Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Owen) and Manhattan assistant district attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts) look to bring one of the biggest banks in the world to justice, but soon find their lives in jeopardy as they uncover a bigger web of conspiracy and terror than they could have imagined.
As we open with Clive Owen's brooding angry stare before a swift cut to a bank, it's as if pantomime booing is expected from the audience — yet if The International had anything like the humour, pacing or well-paced plot of a Cinderella or Dick Whittington, it'd be a great deal more successful at keeping the audience's attention. In these testing times — always a heartening preamble — Tykwer's take on shady multinationals should have no trouble finding an audience. With his punchy, arresting visuals and well-executed set pieces — an intense and beautifully staged shootout in New York's Guggenheim Museum hits you like an electric jolt to the synapses — an initially slick unveiling of the murky dealings of the fictional IBBC bank has you momentarily experiencing a relevant, absorbing thriller.
Yet through an inauthentic, jargon-filled script — forcing Owen and Watts to speak in either acronyms or "let's bust this thing wide open!" cliches — audience attention soon wanders to how poorly Watts is lit or what a good 007 Owen might have made. It's a perfectly adequate corporate thriller, but with Watts largely forgotten in the final third, hints at a backstory for Owen that are never explored and a climactic rooftop chase that feels like Bourne or Bond out jogging, it's not the anti-bank movie the world's been waiting for.