February 23, 2009 12:00 PM

Clive Owen, Naomi Watts | R |


Like a fruit salad ill-advisedly assembled from ingredients not yet fully ripe, this thriller falls short of its promise because its characters are only half-written and its plot is spotted with dull patches. The International, set amid the steel-and-glass towers of corporate privilege in Berlin, Milan, New York City and other glam destinations, centers on a dedicated Interpol agent (Owen) and an assistant district attorney (Watts) determined to expose the shady dealings of an international bank. Soon, the two are up to their jet-lagged eyeballs in tracking assassins, illegal arms deals and other dangerous stuff.

There’s so little backstory provided on the pair, or even a sense of how they live their lives, that they seem merely wire frames upon which fully developed characters have yet to be built. There’s little Owen or Watts can do to goose them to life. The reason to see the film? A lollapalooza of a shoot-out blasting within the spiraling floors of the art-filled Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

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