x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

The International

For a film with such a menacing concept, The International is remarkably mild-mannered.

Clive Owen in The International.
Clive Owen in The International.


For a film with such a menacing concept - that the banks controlling our finances are also controlling the Third World's guerrilla wars - The International is a remarkably mild-mannered film. Sure, there are one or two spectacular set pieces, such as the impressively iconoclastic destruction of the lobby of New York's Guggenheim museum (shot in a meticulously built full-size reconstruction), but it takes a serious body count to jolt the viewer from a plot-induced slumber. Perhaps it's the monotony of Clive Owen's resolutely dour mumble - though he does a decent impression of a brooding Interpol agent driven to vigilante fury. Perhaps it's the language of finance, an opaque subject for those not actually involved in banking. Perhaps it's the bleak cinematography that somehow manages to make even Rome look grim. Whatever the reason, this film only comes to life in the last moments when the protagonists reach Istanbul, a city that is incapable of being boring. Yet even here, the visual clichés come thick and fast, together with some comic location-dodging, in which the action moves, in the space of moments, from the Suleymaniye Mosque to the Blue Mosque, followed by some hiding in the Basilica Cistern and finally a chase through the Grand Bazaar. Why anyone would hold secret meetings in some of the world's biggest tourist attractions - and how they managed to find said monuments empty - is perhaps a quibble too far. At least the ultimate message of the film - dastardly bankers, yuck - chimes with the times.