Bank of Whatever

rexthe international 4h Bank of Whatever The International
Running time 118 minutes
Written by Eric Singer
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Starring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts

Based on the assumption that since everybody hates bankers, they make perfect movie villains, The International is a “Say what?” head scratcher about a money conglomerate shifting illegal billions from Berlin to Milan to New York to Luxembourg to France to Istanbul and dozens of exotic global locales in between, all played by places that look like New Jersey. It stars Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, two more good-looking actors who have never lived up to their potential, in possession of an indisputable talent for choosing rotten scripts. He’s an incendiary Interpol agent with a short fuse stationed in Lyon, and she’s from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and whatever they have in common chasing international terrorists is anybody’s guess. For reasons known only to Tom Tykwer, the overrated German director of such abominations as Perfume and Heaven, they are on the trail of a major criminal plot by something called the IBBC, which is the world’s fifth-largest bank, to sell Chinese arms to Third World countries in the Middle East, producing conflict and controlling the debt it creates. Result: The IBBC will control the world. Theory: If the Arabs don’t buy the missiles, the Israelis will. Before this violent and incomprehensible pulp fiction drags its carcass to an end, the action involves the assassination of the next Italian prime minister, the Red Brigade, and a bloody shootout in the middle of the Guggenheim Museum in broad daylight where there is always an empty parking space. The paintings, sculptures, tourists, glass windows, central chandelier and never-ending killers bolting from every elevator all go down in a blast of Uzis, while the bullet-riddled Clive Owen escapes with a black eye and a Band-Aid. This guy is so tough he massacres his enemies, then beats them up even after they’re dead. At a time of city cutbacks, when every job is on the line, I wish somebody would explain how Naomi Watts gets so much time off to move from one continent to the next with an unlimited expense account, like she was taking the subway to lunch. And for what? The IBBC is, after all, only the world’s fifth-largest banking empire. I shudder to think what’s going on in the top four.

In one of the dopiest lines in The International, a master multinational monster confides between clenched teeth his cynical philosophy of the difference between truth and fiction. “Fiction,” he sniffs, “has to make sense.” Wrong. This movie is a fiction—and it makes no sense at all.

rreed@observer.com