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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review: The International

Tom Tykwer, Germany / Great Britain

This British-German co-production by German director Tom Tykwer (Perfume, Run Lola Run) was chosen to open the 2009 Berlinale Film Festival. The production was filmed at Studio Babelsberg and on location in Berlin, New York, Istanbul and Milan. The star-studded international cast includes Clive Owen (Inside Man) and Naomi Watts (21 Grams) in the leading roles, Armin Mueller-Stahl (The Buddenbrooks), Brian F. O’Bryrne (Million Dollar Baby), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen) and Jack McGee (L.A.Crash).

This action thriller traces criminal business transactions of a powerful world bank financing wars and stirring up unrest for financial gains. A thriller with this “hot” subject is particularly chilling as we slide into a banking crisis of unknown dimensions. The festival chief, Dieter Kosslick said, “When we decided to open the festival with Tom Tykwer’s financial thriller we did not know that his fiction would soon be overtaken by reality.”

Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Owen) teams up with Manhattan district attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts) after witnessing the mysterious and sudden collapse of his colleague, suspecting a cold-blooded murder. They get caught up in far-reaching criminal doings of high-finance, leading them to the (fictional) IBBC bank. They soon find out that this sleek organisation functions as an assassination agency. The cool assassin (Brian F. O’Bryrne) is spine-chilling. People get shot, others get tortured. Illegal weapons deals involve Third-World countries and Salinger is obsessively driven to bring these highly sophisticated villains to fall.

The hectic action hop-scotches across continents with stunning views of, e.g., Milan, great modern architecture and glimpses of historical Turkey, thanks to Frank Griebe’s excellent cinematography. The action dramatically accelerates with the breathtaking – if somewhat illogical – shoot-out at the Guggenheim museum. The chase ends in Istanbul with an exhilarating view over the ancient roof tops of Istanbul. Salinger has just survived, but who is the winner?

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