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The International is a 2009 thriller film, directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Clive Owen, and Naomi Watts. In the tradition of 70s conspiracy thriller films, such as The Conversation (1974) and The French Connection (1971), the film follows a pair that investigates corruption within a banking institution. Production began in Berlinmarker in September 2007. The film opened the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival on February 5, 2009. The film was inspired by the Pakistani Bank of Credit and Commerce International banking scandal.


Interpolmarker agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattanmarker Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) are determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks, the International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) which funds terrorist activities. Uncovering illegal activities including money laundering, murder, arms trading, and the destabilization of governments, Salinger's and Whitman's investigation takes them from Berlinmarker to Milanmarker, where the IBBC assassinates Umberto Calvini, an Italian prime ministerial candidate. Following a lead on the assassin to New York Citymarker, Salinger is involved in a gunfight in the Guggenheim Museummarker. An ally of Salinger in the NYPD tracks down the assassin's handler, Wilhelm Wexler, who helps Salinger reach Istanbulmarker, where the CEO of the IBBC, Jonas Skarssen, is conducting an arms deal. Both Wexler and Skarssen are killed by a hitman contracted by Enzo and Mario Calvini to avenge their father's murder by the bank. Salinger is left stunned; his investigation, pursuit and determination having led him to nothing. During the credits, it is indicated that the bank continues with its plans and is successful, despite the death of its CEO.



The International is based on an original screenplay written by Eric Singer, with director Tom Tykwer. In April 2007, Clive Owen signed on to star in The International. The following July, actress Naomi Watts was cast opposite Owen. The film received US$5.4 million from the German Federal Film Fund toward its budget in August. The following month, its funding increased to $7.9 million based on the board's assessment that two-thirds of The International would be produced in Germany and that the film involved German talent like actors Armin Mueller-Stahl and Axel Milberg, cinematographer Frank Griebe, and production designer Uli Hanisch. Filming began in Berlinmarker on September 10, 2007. Part of the production has taken place in Babelsberg Studiosmarker. A life-size replica of the Solomon R.marker Guggenheim Museummarker was built for a shoot-out scene. Many scenes were filmed in the VW Autostadtmarker in Wolfsburgmarker.

Critical reception

The International has received mixed reviews from critics. Based on reviews from 189 critics, the film has a 58% rating on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "I felt occasionally that Owen's rumpled performance is in danger of becoming a little one-note ... but this is still an unexpectedly well–made thriller with brainpower as well as firepower". Philip French, in his review for The Observer, wrote, "Architecture is central to the meaning of The International. The villains inhabit impersonal buildings, built of glass and steel, which reflects Owen's discovery that anonymous forces operated by readily replaceable people run this world and there's nothing an ordinary citizen can do about it". In his review for The Independent, Anthony Quinn wrote, "It's reasonably efficient, passably entertaining, and strenuously playing catch-up with the Bourne movies: flat-footed Owen doesn't look as good as Matt Damon sprinting through city streets, and the editing doesn't match Paul Greengrass's whiplash pace".

The New Yorker magazine's David Denby wrote, "And there's a big hole in the middle of the movie: the director, Tom Tykwer, and the screenwriter, Eric Warren Singer, forgot to make their two crusaders human beings". In his review for The New York Post, Lou Lumenick wrote, "There, an anticlimactic rooftop chase reminds us that Tykwer, the German director who reinvented the Euro thriller with Run, Lola, Run a decade ago, has been far surpassed by Paul Greengrass and the Bourne adventures". A.O. Scott, in his review for The New York Times, wrote, "The International, in contrast, is so undistinguished that the moments you remember best are those that you wish another, more original director had tackled".

In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "It's got some effective moments and aspects, but the film goes in and out of plausibility, and its elements never manage to unify into a coherent whole". Claudia Puig, in her review for USA Today, wrote, "The dialogue by screenwriter Eric Warren Singer is spotty. There are some great, pithy lines and others whose attempt at profundity ring false". Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Clive Owen makes a semi-believable hero, not performing too many feats that are physically unlikely. He's handsome and has the obligatory macho stubble, but he has a quality that makes you worry a little about him". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B–" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "the star of the pic may well be NYC's Guggenheim Museum and Istanbul's Grand Bazaarmarker, both of which figure in cool action chase sequences that pay handsome dividends".


The International had its premiere on February 5, 2009 at the Berlin International Film Festival and was released in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker on February 13, 2009. It was also released in Australia on February 19 and the United Kingdommarker on February 27, 2009.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 9, 2009. It contains a digital copy for portable devices.


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