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The International (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/9/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/2/2009

Do you hate the bank? Do you get incredibly angry at ATM fees? When you scan your monthly statement and see an additional maintenance charge do you lose your mind? If so, then The International may be for you. If not, then you may want to keep your money at home.

Clive Owen stars in The International as INTERPOL agent Louis Salinger who is investigating the International Bank of Business and Credit. Salinger has been on the IBBC case for several years, as he's amassed evidence that the bank is involved in nefarious acts, such as buying and selling weapons. He's working with Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) of the New York City District Attorney's office, as the IBBC's New York branch has been suspected as being a hub for money laundering. As the story opens, Salinger and Whitman are in Berlin attempting to engage a contact inside of the company. When that man dies in a car accident, they are forced to begin looking for new leads. They travel to Milan to meet with politician Umberto Calvini (Luca Giorgio Barbareschi), but that encounter only leads to more frustrations. As it becomes clear that the IBBC will go to any lengths to protect its interests, Salinger realizes that he will have to bend the law in order to obtain justice.

I will always give credit where credit is due, and I must say that The International certainly lives up to its title. The movie takes us to Berlin, Luxembourg, Milan, New York, and Turkey. It is definitely international and it almost has the feeling of a James Bond or a Jason Bourne film as the characters travel from place to place. (The film features some European architecture which hasn't been seen on film before.) The aspect of the film which I enjoyed the most, and I'm not giving anything away here, is that there is no romantic link between Salinger and Whitman. She has a family and they simply work together. This is very refreshing as there is typically a forced romance or an attempt to create sexual tension in situations like this.

Outside of those two facets, this movie is a snoozer. The International comes from Director Tom Tykwer, who made Run Lola Run, so we know that he can make an exciting film. And I got the feeling that he was overseeing the film, telling us, "This is exciting, this is exciting", but it simply isn't. The movie fails on most every front. The script is both laboriously detailed and vague as well. We are forced to listen to one conversation after another about all of the bad things that IBBC does, and there's no argument that they are involved in some naughty activities. And yet, the viewer will constantly be asking themselves, "Tell me again why I'm supposed to be so terrified of this entity." The movie asks as if the notion that money controls the world is a new idea, but trust me, it isn't.

This attention to the details of the story creates some very slack pacing in the film. When there is an action scene, of which there are about two, the movie doesn't pick up very much. The film's set piece, which I won't divulge here, is supposed to be a real show-stopper because of the location in which it happens. And while the spot is interesting and unique, the scene itself plays out like any other gun-fight. Boring may be too strong of a word to use to describe The International, but dull certainly fits. (My wife loves Clive Owen and she bailed about 15 minutes in because nothing was happening.)

The cover art for The International promises a movie that we simply don't get. We see Clive Owen with a gun, which implies that this is an action film. In reality, it's more of a political thriller, and while Owen does get to use his gun some, those expecting another Shoot 'Em Up will be demanding a refund. We also see Owen appearing to hold Watts hand. Again, there is no relationship between them, and to be honest, she isn't in the movie that much. So, to recap, The International tells us things that we already know and it does it in a laborious way which features no plot twists. Forget The International and stay home this summer.

The International would cheat at Monopoly on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and no defects from the source print. The colors look good and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The image shows an impressive amount of depth and detail and the many cityscape shots look fantastic. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good. The movie contains many street and crowd scenes, and we get nicely detailed effects from the front channels in these scenes. The surround sound effects in these scenes are good as well, and the one big action scene provides both good surround and subwoofer effects.

The International Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director Tom Tykwer and Writer Eric Singer. This is an OK commentary, but it's a bit stoic. The two attempt to give scene-specific comments, but often get sidetracked, discussing the development of the script and the symbolism of the film. I did enjoy Singer's candor when he discussed what it was like to have his original script changed. "The International Experience: Picture-in-Picture" offers pop-up inserts which offer behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and filmmakers. "Salinger & Whitman - Extended Scene" (11 minutes) features a new scene with Owen and Watts. "Making The International" (30 minutes) is a very detailed featurette which offers interviews with the cast and filmmakers. We learn that the plot is based on some true events. From the script, the piece then examines the film's production by showing us some of the key scenes and locations. We also see how the fake Guggenheim was made. "Shooting at The Guggenheim" (7 minutes) again examines how a double for the famous museum was made through comments from Art Director Sarah Horton. "The Architecture of The International" (6 minutes) examines how modern architecture figues heavily into the film as both locations and symbolism. "The Autostadt" (5 minutes) looks at a special building in Wolfsburg.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also brought The International to DVD. The film is letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only slight grain. The colors look good, but the image is a tad soft. Nonetheless, this is a stellar transfer. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. As with most Sony DVDs, the audio here is top-notch. The surround sound effects are prevalent and effective, and the stereo effects enhanced the crowd scenes.

The extras on the DVD are identical to those found on the Blu-ray Disc save for the Picture-in-Picture feature.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long