Friday, February 26, 2010

The International (2009) - By Mark Oswald

Ok, story time again…A few years ago I was touring the good ole’ US of A with my band at the time, and we had arrived in Ventura, CA to play this music festival we performed at the year before. While we were in town, our guitarist told us that his uncle, an actor, wanted to take us out to breakfast one day. “Who is your uncle,” we asked. “Jack McGee”, he responded. Once we realized who that was, we were pretty fucking stoked!

McGee upholding the law (right)

For those of you not in the know, Jack McGee is a respected “that guy” actor (i.e. - someone who pops up in movies all the time, causing you to go, “Hey, it’s that guy!”). You may not know their name, but you can always rely on them to perform valiantly in a supporting role. For example, if you’ve seen Scrooged, Lethal Weapon 2, Born on the Fourth of July, The Doors, Backdraft, Basic Instinct, Lethal Weapon 3 (Director’s Cut), Miracle on 34th Street (Remake), Jury Duty, Showgirls, The Quest, Jungle 2 Jungle, Breakdown, The Prophecy 3, Coyote Ugly, Thirteen Days, Legally Blonde 2, Crash, 21, a certain episode of Seinfeld, or the first couple seasons of Rescue Me, then you’re sure to recognize Jack McGee. So when he met us outside our hotel, I was, needless to say, pretty excited. Long story short, he was awesome, and one thing he mentioned was that he was about to fly out somewhere to start shooting a movie called The International with Clive Owen. I made a mental note of that at the time, but totally forgot until he popped up about halfway through this movie.

Moving on to the film itself…The International is a political/big business thriller that almost seems like it should’ve come out in the late 90’s. Clive Owen plays Louis Salinger, an Interpol agent who’s hot on the trail of an evil bank. Yes you read that right; an evil bank. I don’t mean “evil” like they’re a bunch of devil worshiping sadists or anything, but they’re a lot worse than JP Morgan Chase charging you double the fee for using a non-Chase ATM. Anyway, if I remember correctly they were brokering weapons deals between a European mafia syndicate and foreign military powers…or something. I don’t know; this was a complicated ride. There were a lot of intense exchanges of dialogue about this bank and their underhanded dealings.

I suppose that before I go any further, I feel I should mention that even though I’m reviewing this film, and I have a tendency to review Action films, this is not really an Action film. It does contain ONE very cool Action SCENE within its 118 minute running time, but a violent free-for-all, this is not. Clive Owen does get to exercise some legitimate badassitude, though. For one, he looks like shit. He hasn’t been sleeping much lately and his appearance is kind of sloppy. These traits, as you know, are genuine badass characteristics. He doesn’t carry a gun, but he knows how to use one from his time on the London police force, and fortunately for us, he does not hesitate grabbing the weapons of others and jumping into action when needed. What I’m trying to say is that he’s not the ridiculous cartoon hero that he played in Shoot ‘Em up. Think more Children of Men instead.

Wife of Sabertooth, Naomi Watts, is also in this but she doesn’t do anything particularly badass, so I’ll end that train of thought before it begins.

Cool tough guy walk #817

One thing I found really interesting is that the filmmakers were always shooting around these elaborate structures, both natural and man-made, in most of the outdoor scenes. They almost became a character of their own, and gave the film a certain feel of complexity; and complexity defines this movie quite well. As I mentioned, Owen’s character here is not the same as in Shoot ‘Em Up, just as The International’s plotline is not nearly as simplistic. All I can say is that if you choose to watch this movie, make sure you’re sober and that it isn’t too late at night, because if you stop paying attention for even a few seconds, you may completely lose track of what is going on.

So are you a fan of complicated political thrillers, high on intrigue and discourse, but low on action? Maybe you’re someone who used to love action movies, but now you feel that you’ve “outgrown” them? Well first of all, you can suck it…second of all, you may like this movie. I thought it was pretty good.

Body Count – 14

Times I slapped myself into paying more attention – At least 5

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