If one were to look at 'American' films nowadays, one is bewildered by the increasing sophistication of theme,content and presentation. The International (2009) is a movie with global themes involving an international bank which is at the centre of an arms dealing racket involving espionage and murder.
Clive Owen (as Salinger from Interpol) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman, Assistant DA from Manhattan) follow a murder suspect from Milan to New York and the Guggenheim museum -- where a climactic shootout occurs. But for this blog, that is only incidental. What impresses is the level of intrigue, the fast-paced action, and the niggling awareness that it could all be true. Today's movies are on a global scale involving international terrorism and malpractice. The machinations are so Machiavellian and insidious that it takes a lot of time and patience to unravel it. A Columbia Pictures production, simplistic themes are definitely passe. There is not even a romantic angle.
The credits are specially impressive. A series of newspaper headlines are presented as the credits emerge. Though cryptic at first sight, seen with the movie in hindsight, the viewer realizes the scale of perdition -- and how each event is interconnected.
One has to search for the American element in the film. Directed by Tom Tykwer with roots --and funding -- in Berlin, with arms sales to Israel, and murder in Milan there is a lot of globetrotting to do. But the suspense rarely lifts. Like Salt which straddles the KGB and the CIA, The International is also about the murky workings of an international bank and their nefarious dealings. In this sense film is more reportage than entertainment -- stories from the frontline. As told by those who risked their lives to know the truth. Based on actual events and assassinations, viz. the Bank of International Credit and Commerce crisis in 1991, and the murder of Robert Calvi, banker to the mafia in 1982, the film merits serious reflection beyond the lure of its reels.
Pix from Imgres.