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Monday, 27 December 2010

Thank you Doug, thank you Paul, thank you Robert

It would be easy to give too much credit to the excellent Bourne Trilogy for making an intellegent and sophisticated film like The International possible. It has become something of a cliche to give a heavy nod towards Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass, and their slick realisations of Robert Ludlum's source material whenever a thriller appears that is set anywhere east of Norwich, and to forget the films that went before like Funeral In Berlin, The Quiller Memorandum, The Third Man, to name but three, is regretable.

The International is however brilliantly constructed in its own right by Tom Tykwer, director of Run Lola Run and Perfume, and Clive Owen is excellent as the brooding investigator with a troubled past. Naomi Watts shines as always, pleasingly not glammed up as DA Eleanor Whitman (despite the obvious temptation), and Armin Mueller-Stahl brings effortless depth to insider Wilhelm Wexler.

The shoot out in the Guggenheim is a visceral centre piece. Owen's Salinger is no black ops killling machine, he is a man on a mission, driven to succeed at all costs. Indeed he and his temporary associates seem positively fragile as they scurry and dive to avoid the hail of gunfire that rips through the gallery set. There are further signs that Salinger is increasingly on the brink as events rattle forward, and Owen conveys that sense of running on the edge of control so well.

Like so many things in cinema, as in life, however it is the journey that is the real experience. So it is with The International, by the time it arrives at the denouement all the best scenes have passed. It is a disappointment that nothing better than a brief rooftop pursuit can be conjured up by Tykwer and writer Eric Singer - and the coup de grasse lacks true impact, despit the attempt at a twist.

But don't let this minor personal quibble put you off, The International is entirely worthy of 2 hours of your life, and desveres to be widely recommended to anyone who does not want to leave their brain in a jar in the cloakroom.

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