The Berlin Film Festival launched today with the world premiere of Clive Owen's financial-intrigue thriller The International, and we regret to inform that it was critically wounded almost instantly. But recovery is expected!
The first we heard after the screening got out, one critic didn't do much to counteract a colleague's avowed conventional wisdom that "Opening Night film equals shite" — largely on the basis of a script that "sounds uncomfortably like samples pulled at random from a bag of fortune-cookies." But we found our heavy weaponry in Todd McCarthy's arsenal at Variety:
The International scampers all over the place, but it's alternately frantic and a little slack, with a hole in the middle where some interesting characters ought to be. [...]
Owen's Salinger is clearly designed to be the counterhero, a scruffy, stubbly, ornery maverick who's let the rest of his life slide, in his often bumpy pursuit of justice. The basic notion behind the character is fine, but insufficient psychological detail is provided to back up the exterior sketch. [...] Salinger's spirited tag-along crimefighter Whitman is one of the few roles to which [Naomi] Watts hasn't been able to bring anything special, because there's nothing remotely suggested about her inner-life or past.
The good news, per THR: "[Director Tom] Tykwer's cinematic virtuosity has often exceeded his narrative grasp. But if he has little instinct for relationship or conversation, he has a keen eye for visual metaphor." Like all those guys blowing the shit out of the Guggenheim Museum, reducing soundstage art replicas to bullet-riddled shambles? Now there's a metaphor. Get your tickets now!