Sunday, June 13, 2010
The International... Pet the Banker.
The International: 6 out of 10: The International has great timing. Not since The China Syndrome opened up 12 days before the Three Mile Island Accident, has a movie seemed so prescient (Or in The international’s case ripped from the headlines.)
A therein lies one of The International’s two main problems. It is ripped from the headlines. The problem is the headlines in question are from 1989. The movie is about The BCCI collapse. Unfortunately the script mimics the actual late eighties scandal a little to accurately for its own good.
There are clues that the script had been collecting dust for some time before the new bank crisis prompted it back in the mix. For example, one of the more famous BCCI clients was Samuel Doe, who was president of Liberia in the early eighties. Not exactly ripped from the headlines stuff, but the International doggedly creates a General Charles Motomba, played gamely by Lucian Msamati, who takes over Liberia with the banks help. Something that makes little sense in a year that starts with a two.
In another, what decade is this again moment, the hit man uses a payphone after receiving what appears to be a beeper message. For those under 35, and not 30 Rock fans, let me explain what a beeper was. A beeper was a cell phone that did not make calls. It only received phone numbers. Then you, the recipient of a “beep”, would have to find a payphone and call the number to talk to someone.
Now a payphone was a phone that the public would use instead of their own separate cell phones. They were metal and had many germs. If you visit a public transport hub, you can sometimes still find “banks” of phones.
If it seems I am nitpicking, keep in mind the film itself lives in some uncanny valley between Michael Clayton and The Bourne Identity. Not nearly realistic enough for Clayton fans; and for the Bourne fans? Well there are about as many action set pieces as there are hours the film runs. (Read two) It is a surprisingly talky affair.
Speaking of talking, “Sometimes a man can meet his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” Can someone explain that quote to me. Our rumpled protagonist says it at least twice and it makes no bloody sense either time.
In addition, speaking of not making sense… late in the film in Istanbul (not Constantinople) one bad guy says to the other let me show you a something few man have seen and proceeds to take him to the Basilica Cistern. You know that underground canal featured In From Russia with Love and maybe the third Indiana Jones film and is one of Turkey’s biggest tourist attractions. This makes about as much sense if he said it about the Statue of Liberty. (There is this statue; in the harbor, few men have seen my friend.)
Overall, the acting, direction and cinematography are decent. However the story is dated and the film is simply too stupid to be an intellectual thriller, and too slow for an action movie. It certainly is a passable, if mediocre, time waster overall.
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