The International (15)

Pick your own hokum – from bonkers bankers to Nazi sci-fi
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The Independent Culture

Bankers have never looked more villainous than they do now, so this might be the ideal moment to release The International, a conspiracy thriller which casts the bosses of a corporate bank as the bad guys. Mind you, a film would have to be more credible and sophisticated than this one to sate our fervent desire to see some fat cats getting their just deserts. The baddies in The International aren't only paying themselves seven-figure bonuses while the taxpayer foots the bill, they're ordering highly public assassinations to be carried out by a hitman whose leg brace sets off airport metal detectors. If some aspects of the film could have been torn from today's headlines, others could have been torn from a 40-year-old spy novel. Still, as hokey as The International undoubtedly is, it's also a fast and efficient yarn which starts with the action already under way, and which doesn't pause for breath as it globe-trots from Berlin to Milan to Istanbul.

Clive Owen does sterling work as an Interpol agent who strides through every scene in a bullish rage, as if he's furious that he didn't get the role of James Bond, and he's taking it out on anyone who gets in his way. This is a man so angry that when a potential informant is murdered, he punches the corpse in frustration. But Naomi Watts is insipid as a New York Deputy District Attorney, an underwritten part which makes the average Bond girl seem like Hedda Gabler. If only the whole film were as exciting as a shoot-out in The Guggenheim Museum that's both completely ridiculous and completely brilliant.