Film / The International

A 2009 conspiracy thriller directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts.

Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Watts) are determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering illegal activities including money laundering, arms trading, and the destabilization of governments, Salinger and Whitman's investigation takes them from Berlin to Milan to New York and to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as the bank will stop at nothing — even murder — to continue financing terror and war.

Tropes present in this work include:

  • Always Murder: Salinger is convinced of this when his partner has a heart attack after meeting a contact. He's right, of course.
  • Forensic Drama: Briefly, when looking into the assassination of Calvini.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Consultant. Becomes a plot point when his leg brace allows the police to track him down.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Oddly, delivered to the Enemy Mine in the gallery shootout - more a case of "I can only get out of here if you help me", but there's also the fact that Salinger wants him to testify.
  • Interpol Special Agent: Played with. Even though Salinger pretty much leads the investigation of the bank, it's clearly stated by his colleague early in the film that Interpol is not a law enforcement agency in itself, but deals with intelligence and liaison services for other agencies.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Gorily averted on several occasions. One character bleeds out messily from a neck wound, one takes a long time to die from a stomach wound, and all the professional killers in the film employ Make Sure He's Dead head shots.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Mostly averted, despite all the local police forces involved. Most of the friction is with the higher-ups.
    • Played straight with the corrupt Italian police chief who directly interferes with Salinger's investigation.
  • Karma Houdini: The bank itself. Various members get well-deserved deaths, but even with Whitman's charges at the end it's strongly suggested the IBBC will survive.
  • Monumental Battle: In the Guggenheim, New York.
  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: The bank is simply the middle man at the center of one of these.
  • Smart People Play Chess: The Big Bad is shown teaching his son Go.
  • Spy Speak: Subverted when the hitman and his handler meet at an art gallery and have a stilted conversation about the painting they're looking at - turns out they already know each other, and they were just making conversation.
  • Strange Bedfellows: Salinger and the Consultant escaping the Guggenheim after the latter becomes aware of the hit put out on him.
  • Vigilante Man: Tipping off The Mafia that the IBBC shot their old patriarch, and then attempting to do the same with the Syrians.
  • Villainous Demotivator: Wexley only helps Salinger because he knows he hasn't got long to live.
  • War for Fun and Profit
    Umberto Calvini: The IBBC is a bank. Their objective isn't to control the conflict, it's to control the debt that the conflict produces. You see, the real value of a conflict, the true value, is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Whitman disappears for the final third of the movie when Salinger goes off the radar to fight the IBBC. She doesn't show up again except in newspaper headlines during the credits detailing her legal attempts to charge IBBC with money laundering.
    • Borderline case. We see her step out of the investigation, and are given reasons for why she does so.
  • UST: Averted. Salinger and Whitman are both professionals more dedicated to finishing their investigation.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The IBBC engages in this quite a bit.