Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The International

Imagine that an international banking institution (not unlike the International Monetary Fund) that lends money to nations, conceives of an idea that would allow them to control conflicts in developing countries. A bank so sinister that they select the would-be winners before the conflict is even started, in hopes of finding friends in the new government as well as dictating world conflicts and manage debts. After all, when the loser owes you money, how are you going to collect?

Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) works in Lyon, France at InterPol's Headquarters. His job is to coordinate international police intelligence. Nothing more, nothing less. This much I can appreciate. However, Salinger was with a Police Agency prior to his re-assignment to InterPol. From the sound of things, this was a place that Salinger was tucked away to keep him from causing trouble. Yet is seems that this new assignment has put Salinger dead on the trail of an international conspiracy with the IBBC (an international bank) squarely in the middle. Salinger has no authority to conduct investigations, yet he finds himself violating international treaties and protocol's to carry out his personal agenda against the bank. The process takes viewers inside the illegal investigation complete with chase scenes and incredible shoot-outs.

The concept at work in The International is beyond improbable. The idea is simply impossible. The idea of international intrigue with the banking system at the core of political assassinations and insurgencies is certainly a dramatic and intriguing idea. In fact, I would not entirely discount the ability of a major international bank to attempt to affect government policies. Hiring assassins? Probably not. Picking sides in a conflict? Not a good idea...playing the middle would seem more profitable. An InterPol agent engaging in illegal investigations and involved in shooting incidents in foreign countries? He would be recalled immediately (if not prosecuted in the host country...depending on his Diplomatic status). The script in The International contains some great twists, but requires a healthy "willful suspension of disbelief."

Although writer Eric Singer stretched the boundaries of believability with his script, but it was not all bad. The concept itself was excellent. I'm not buying the InterPol angle, but I liked the way the pieces of the investigation were put together. Although simplistic, it was interesting to see the elements of the investigation come together and move more quickly than one might think. As the layers are peeled back, the direction still remains a bit veiled, leaving the ending to unravel in the final ten minutes of the film. The characters were also decent, although more shallow than I prefer. The dialogue was rich. It appeared to me that the dialogue avoided excessive police language that gets overused in television and film, concentrating instead on the subject matter at hand. In other words, the dialogue didn't try too hard to seem legit.

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