Move over, Darth Vader. Get out of the way, Hannibal Lecter. Step aside, Joker. There's a new villain in town: the evil bank. Timing is everything, and whether through luck or prescience, The International capitalizes on employing bad guys squarely in the crosshairs of American fury and bitterness. But this seemingly surefire recipe for box-office success is squandered on a thriller that, quite simply, forgets to be thrilling.
Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) has been on the trail of a corrupt bank for years. The former Scotland Yard investigator is now pushing pencils for Interpol but his mission remains the same—take down the International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC), which he is convinced is involved in arms trading and massive money laundering for organized crime. Disheveled and on the edge, Salinger has made IBBC's demise his passion, to the exclusion of family, relationships, and even personal hygiene. Yet every time Salinger gets close to breaking the case, his witnesses end up dead, victims of convenient freak accidents.
Joining him in his quest—for reasons not convincingly spelled out—is New York Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts). Together they follow the money trail from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul. IBBC has its tentacles in every country's government, allowing it to easily control the mechanisms of power that will legitimate its actions. When that doesn't work, hit men (including Brian F. O'Byrne) are tasked with eliminating anyone who gets in the bank's way, from turncoats in the organization to presumptive heads of state. As it turns out, IBBC more than just finances the world's war machines: "They don't want to control the conflict," one character states. ...1
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