A movie about an evil bank - couldn't be timelier, right? Unfortunately, the only thing that rings true about "The International" is that it is yet another massive bank failure.
Clive Owen stars as a rumpled, frustrated Interpol agent determined to bring down a malicious international bank. For some far-fetched reason, he has teamed up with Manhattan District Attorney Naomi Watts to do it, and the two traipse around various European cities trying to get the evidence they need.
And we're off on what turns out to be a slow-moving police procedural with a big budget, clever location scout and a talented cinematographer.
It's clear from the start that these particular bank executives are sinister. After all, they inhabit ultramodern, sleek gray buildings with cold concrete floors and walls, and wear the latest in black and gray fashion. But there's more to being evil than how you decorate (Turn on a lamp! Add a little color to the walls!), and these bad guys seem like they came right out of 1960s James Bond central casting.
Owen and Watts have absolutely no chemistry together. Nor should they since their relationship, which is strictly platonic, is given no opportunity to develop beyond people who work together. That's no fun.
And they're not even very good at their jobs. In fact, they do some things that seem pretty darn naïve - perhaps even stupid. Forget the fact that the audience already knows what our "heroes" spend most of the movie trying to figure out, but they aren't able to solve the mystery without major help from the bad guys - not once, but twice.
The usually crackling Owen does the best he can trying to play something between Jason Bourne and Michael Clayton, but just ends up seeming frantic, disheveled and inexplicably angry about something we never quite get.
Watts is seriously miscast, almost comical, as she seems to be reading hokey lines from a bad "Law and Order" script. There's a lot of these lines sprinkled throughout the film, making the characters - both good and evil - seem like stereotypes you couldn't really care less about.
The exception is Armin Mueller-Stahl as one of the bank's advisers, who makes the most of the only character in the film with an interesting back story and some motivation for doing what he does. But by the time they let us in on it, the movie is mostly over and it's just too late to matter.