I think we all know that ours are troubled times. Money is tight for everyone, particularly for those of us who write for free on the Internet. I’m not sure how Jackie and Neil handle their business, but I can tell you that my landlord did not appreciate receiving my “Taken” review in lieu of a rent check, which means he’ll like getting this one even less. Maybe if I mention his name this will increase in value. Worth a try: hey Mario! Tell the painter to come in the afternoon, I was up all night writing this month’s rent. In this difficult economic climate there is no shortage of enemies; consumer confidence is low while consumer rage is off the chart. These factors – along with one look at your 401K – will tell you that a film about an evil bank would resonate with the movie going public. If done correctly, a film like that could burst right out of today’s headlines and into the public’s collective empty pockets, extracting the stray dollar bills and spare change left them by real-life circumstance. “The International”, unfortunately, is not done correctly. In fact, it’s barely done at all, all exposition and furtive glances stitched together by the same, tired “nobody can get to these guys!” clichés you see in every movie of this genre. Clive Owen plays an Interpol agent obsessed with bringing down The Bank, a shadowy, no-doubt evil organization hell bent on controlling EVERYTHING EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE WORLD CARES ABOUT! They are an international consortium doing things like attempting to take over the flow of small-arms into third-world countries, and making clandestine deals with the Chinese and the Liberians. Basically, you name it and The Bank is doing it, which gets a little hard to believe when you see the bank is run by the same four guys, one of whom is their legal counsel. Really, one lawyer for the most evil organization in the world? There were more lawyers in my theater than these guys have on retainer. Here’s how ludicrous this plot is: Clive’s partner in taking on The Bank is Naomi Watts, a New York district attorney whose jurisdiction apparently includes Europe, as she travels to Italy to assist Owen in the interview of a political candidate who has dealings with The Bank. Shortly after their chat the candidate is assassinated, and while the entire Italian police force feels comfortable with the suspect they apprehend, Naomi and Clive have other ideas. They are escorted to the crime scene by a sympathetic Italian police inspector who, with two sentences in Italian and a cursory badge flash, secures the right for the incredibly unkempt Interpol agent and the nice blonde lady from New York to snoop around a little. Eventually they’re sticking pennants into bullet holes, tracing trajectories, scaling rooftops, lifting footprints…it’s like a “Law & Order” episode, minus the Stabler/Benson sexual tension. And this is only one of the many, many ridiculous situations we find ourselves witnessing. Another thing; The Bank is handling all sorts of dirty business, eliminating anyone who gets in their way, yet they use one hit man for all eliminations. Seriously, one guy; they just keep meeting him in museums and handing him envelopes, sending him all over the globe to kill people by bumping into them. If only Clive can find that guy, he can bring the whole thing crashing down! If only that incredibly efficient killing machine had an easily traceable Achilles heel, like a custom leg brace manufactured exclusively for a podiatrist in New York! Oh, if only the puzzle that is the murky world of sinister financial institutions and contract killings were that easily solved. Wait, it is? Carry on then… The highlight of this movie for me came about ninety minutes in, when I swear to God the sound cut out in the theater, yet the movie kept rolling. The theater was up in arms, and we had to watch about six minutes of a silent movie before the problem was fixed. As you might have guessed by now, I didn’t mind. I love the fact that even the film went “fuck, I’m awful”, and tried to save us by shutting itself down. It was a gallant attempt at cinematic seppuku, but unfortunately the problem was fixed and the torture began anew. This film begs the question: actors know when they’re doing a shit movie, right? They have to know, don’t they? Naomi Watts and Clive Owen are talented actors, and they’ve both done great films in the past; they have to look at each other at some point during filming and just laugh out loud, right? This movie is straight-up, boilerplate, ho-hum, insert any other derisive hyphenate here, weak fucking sauce. An absolute snooze; don’t believe me? Here are two actual lines of dialogue… “Sometimes a man finds his destiny on the very road he takes to avoid it.” Thanks Confucius, can I get this lo mein bagged up to go? “In life, you sometimes have to decide between the bridge you cross, and the bridge you burn.” Riiight; in life you also have to decide between “The International” and every other movie ever made. Can you guess which way I’m leaning?