The International (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Thriller
Sony || R - 118 minutes - $39.95 || June 9, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-24


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Tim Tkywer
Writer(s): Eric Warren Singer (written by)
Cast: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl


Theatrical Release Date: February 13, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Picture-in-Picture
  • Extended Scene
  • 4 Featurettes
  • Cinechat
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portguese

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot Synopsis: Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) is determined to expose an arms dealing ring responsible for facilitating acts of terrorism around the globe. But as his investigation leads Salinger and his partner, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), deeper into the secret world of greed, corruption so vast, they soon find the only people left to trust... are each other.

Alright, I must admit when I first saw the trailer for The International, it sounded like a ridiculous idea. Well, although it’s not so ridiculous, it is quite tedious and boring. The problem is the characters are so bland that the story thus becomes uninteresting. The other issue is the first 30-minutes are so oddly paced I had a difficult time even getting remotely involved in what these characters are trying to uncover.

The tedious and boring combination of the story is only compounded when you cast someone like Clive Owen. I love the guy, I do, but his range isn’t that far reaching and he only excels if the script excels (see: Children of Men or Sin City), and the problem is, Eric Singer’s debut feature script doesn’t allow these characters to do anything remotely interesting or propelling enough that we as the audience should care.

Naomi Watts really doesn’t have much to do either: just running around, yelling, looking shocked and perplexed, but ultimately not advancing the story. Watts herself does an OK job but as with Owen’s character and the story overall, does it really matter?

I know we are living in a ADD-driven media world where quick cuts and limited stories are probably preferred by certain segments of the population over the “thinker’s thriller”, but as The Bourne Ultimatum showed, you can present an international thriller and still keep the audience entertained. And admittedly, there were portions of The International that were actually thrilling, such as the shootout at the Guggenheim or portions of the finale as Clive Owen’s character works to take down the bank, but with only 25-minutes actually working in a 118-minutes feature, it’s not nearly enough to save the film.

The International was directed by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer who previously helmed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and the fantastic and energetic Run Lola Run. If there was one technical positive the movie has going for it, it’s the visual flair and style Tykwer as he gorgeously presents various cities around the world. So I’ll give the movie one thing, it is at least interesting to watch, even if the script isn’t.

PROS:
Guggenheim shootout, while seemed oddly placed in the movie, is the only thing that kept this from being a complete waste of time.

CONS:
Just about everything else. Clive Owen is as dry as ever but it’s not like the script did him any favors providing only minimal character development (only a vague event during his time at London Yard) and Naomi Watts has really nothing to do other than be there to listen to Owen’s endless amount of exposition. Because we don’t know these characters, why should we care what they do? Furthermore, it’s not like the plot itself was very exciting either. An evil bank funding terrorism that is never seen and barely mentioned? Yawn.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Commentary with Director Tom Tykwer and Writer Eric Singer

The International Experience: Picture-in-Picture (Profile 1.1/2.0) – With this feature you can watch behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with the cast and crew via a small box which comes on intermediately throughout the movie. ** BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE **

Extended Scene (11:27; HD) – If you think the film was already drawn out as it was, check this scene out which is probably about 8-minutes longer than what was seen. This just adds some extra bit of thrills and paranoia for our intrepid bank-breaking heroes but it offers little else other than seeing Clive Owen’s apartment.

Making the International (30:07; HD) is actually not too bad of a featurette as filmmakers’ explain how the project came about (based on a true story of a real bank operating during the 80s and 90s) and interviews with the cast talking about why it’s such an awesome story that needed to be told.

Shooting at the Guggenheim (6:32) – This is a simple featurette with members of the crew excited to be filming at this famous museum. Presented in letterboxed widescreen.

The Architecture of the International (6:13; HD) sort of goes hand in hand with the previous featurette this time examining the various locations used for filming as they wanted to find interesting looking buildings.

The Autostadt (5:04; HD) – This one could’ve just been included in “The Architecture” featurette as it only covers using huge building to stand in as the bank’s headquarters.

The release also includes Sony’s now typical cinechat where you can talk with friends while watching the film, a BD-Live portal and the digital copy of the film, all of which are ** BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES **.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The International is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. Parts of the movie are a tad washed out per the director’s choice, so it can be tough to gauge on how good the transfer is. However, it did seem like detail levels were very good with no noticeable amount of imperfections.

There’s not much to judge on the audio side of things except for the Guggenheim shootout which does sound pretty good. Other than that, the movie is almost entirely driven by dialogue and a half-way decent score. But the dialogue is crisp, clean and clear coming via the center channel with the other speakers being used for ambient noise.



.::OVERALL::.

I’m still not sure how The International got made because beyond one good sequence, the rest of the plot is so uninteresting that even I had a hard time getting through it. The pacing, especially through the first 20-minutes, was off and the characters are so bland with very little development, some of which could’ve allowed me to actually care about what’s going on. As it stands, there were characters we didn’t know or care either way for and villainous corporation that we don’t get to see how evil they really are, it is only through lousy exposition we know anything about them.