The International (2008)

Rated R. Our ratings: V-5; L-3 ; S/N-1. Running time: 1 hour 58 min.

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with
contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so
we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and
clothing, we will be content with these. But those who
want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by
many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people
into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root
of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some
have wandered away from the faith and pierced them-
selves with many pains.
1 Timothy 6:6-10

An Interpol agent teams up with a New YorkAssistant District Attorney.

2008 Columbia Pictures

Imagine if Henry F. Potter, the rapacious banker in It’s a Wonderful Life, had extended his power beyond Bedford Falls to encompass the world. That is the kind of banker played by Armin Mueller-Stahl in The In ternational. His Wilhelm Wexler helps bankroll rebel generals, overthrow governments, launder money for terrorists and mobsters, and assassinates politicians and others who get in the way. Very much in the way of him and his collaborators are Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts).

Both are determined to bring to justice the huge IBBC, the Luxembourg bank that considers it is above the law of mere nations. Salinger has a personal interest in the pursuit because his partner was assassinated right in front of his eyes after meeting with a banker who was considering blowing the whistle on the operation. Whitman becomes more determined to follow where the case leads when her worried superiors try to discourage her efforts. Their pursuit involves colorful locales from Berlin to Milan to New York, and Istanbul, insuring plenty of interesting sites and sights.

Tom Twyker, director of the far simpler but exciting Run, Lola, Run, often left me confused, uncertain of the meaning of a scene. And plausibility often became an issue—such as how did so many heavily armed assassins ever gain entrance to the Guggenheim Museum, and why do the police take so long to arrive on the scene (especially in NYC where response time is often very swift)? But the action is so well staged, especially the incredibly exciting shoot-out that leaves the interior white walls of the Guggenheim so pockmarked with bullet holes, that such questions become lost in the excitement of the moment. My interest never flagged, even if my brain could not always keep up. See this one strictly for the thrills.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. I almost dispensed with this section this time, but one question that might be fun to explore is the choice of the villains’ occupation: how do filmmakers use the headlines of their time in choosing the occupation or ethnicity/nationality of their villain(s)?

2. What crime thriller movies go with the following occupations or group?

Businessman Government agent Banker Arabs Doctor Asians Lawyer Other…?

Scientist 3. What truth do you see in Salinger’s statement: “ Sometimes you find your destiny on the road you took to avoid it.”