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Interpol Agent Louis Salinger and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman are determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering myriad and reprehensible illegal activities, Salinger and Whitman follow the money from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as their targets will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to continue financing terror and war.
For more about The International and the The International Blu-ray release, see the The International Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Brian F. O'Byrne, Ulrich Thomsen, Jack McGee
Director: Tom Tykwer
» See full cast & crew
The International Blu-ray Review
Sony delivers a reference-quality transfer for 'The International.'
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 7, 2009
I'm more comfortable tense.
Though the poster art may lead one to believe otherwise, The International is not a shoot-em-up but rather a cerebral Mystery with Action elements. A globetrotting affair, the film takes audiences from Berlin to Milan, from New York to Istanbul, the plot revolving around an international arms deal with one of the world's largest banks curiously at the center of the transaction. Mixing the subtle and thought-provoking detective work of a film like The French Connection with the gorgeous European locales and well-staged action of Ronin, The International delivers on all fronts, a surprisingly taut and well-executed Thriller that necessitates more than the fleeting attention span required of typical genre outings that do little more than build a cursory plot around shootouts.
INTERPOL agent Louis Salinger (Clive Own, Children of Men) finds himself investigating the shady dealings of the International Bank of Business and Credit, or IBBC, the worldwide power suspected of participating in illegal arms trade with the goal of profiting from the fallout of whatever conflict they supply. When his colleague dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances, Salinger dives headfirst into the investigation, traveling the world to prove the bank's culpability. Helped by an American, New York District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts, King Kong), Salinger tracks down the bank's top employees and their associates across several continents in an effort to expose their criminal activities.
The International begins quickly, placing audiences in the middle of a covert, intelligence-gathering operation gone awry. The death and suspected murder of one of Salinger's colleagues leads to a worldwide game of cat and mouse, which focuses on the premise that no matter the outcome of the investigation, the established power of international banking, arms trafficking, and, most importantly, the unending violence that plagues the world, will not be stopped by either conventional police work or by a determined agent working outside the confines of the law. The International takes on a rather typical tone of European-based espionage films. Its sleek visuals and simple, deep score, support the film rather than define it. The story boasts smart writing and an interesting plot where the overreaching theme plays as far more important than the specific circumstances and characters that make up the whole.
Technically, The International impresses greatly. If for no other reason it is worth watching for its beautiful photography and stunning vistas of several noteworthy locations. Each one dazzles, the camera never failing to capture the enormity of a landscape, the beauty of a classic architectural design, or the condensed, perilous rooftops of Istanbul. Most every exterior frame is awash in the urban beauty of the world reproduced to nearly lifelike effect on film, the sparkling scenery standing as something of a foil to the deadly games being played inside their walls. As to the acting found in the film, it's almost as uniformly excellent. Populated by a plethora of character actors portraying the villainy, The International exudes professionalism in its secondary roles, with actors that manage to immerse themselves in the seedy world of big business and arms dealing depicted in the picture. Headlining star Clive Owen also turns in a stalwart performance, not topping his fellow actors but suitably playing a tough, no-nonsense and street-smart INTERPOL agent determined to crack the case, even with the odds of not only short-term but also long-term success stacked heavily against him. Unfortunately, Naomi Watts delivers a robotic, uninspired performance, though in her defense her character seems halfway disposable and superfluous, anyway, the film not lending much import to her presence.
Finally, The International delivers but a singular extended action sequence, and it proves worth the wait and highly enjoyable. It plays into the context of the movie, a sequence of events building up to it, and it doesn't have that feel of being forced into the picture just for the sake of waking up an audience that may have been expecting gunfights every 20 minutes. Set in New York's Guggenheim Museum, the shootout is well-staged, loud, and action-packed. It also opens up the plot and resolves a few questions posited before it, lending a bit more weight to it rather than simply an excuse to shoot up a city landmark. Certainly not shying away from either a deluge of bullets or plenty of blood, the scene might play as a bit far-fetched in absolute technical terms but it's a blast to watch and listen to nevertheless.
The International Blu-ray, Video Quality
The International traverses Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. This image offers incredible levels of detail across the board, seen in faces, clothing, buildings, pavement, and most every other on-screen object, either seen in the foreground or in the distant background. Backgrounds remain not only detailed but consistently sharp. The opening exterior Berlin sequence sets the tone for the remainder of the transfer wonderfully; the wet pavement and the sparkle and rain on the cars, facial close-ups, and more, all appear wonderfully rendered and immediately impress with a rich cinematic appearance. Every color takes on a perfectly natural hue throughout. The interior New York office sequence in chapter two showcases a broad range of strong, accurate colors and fine details in the individual hairs atop Naomi Watts' head or on the books on the shelves. The incredible clarity and detail of the transfer even allows viewers the opportunity to count individual bricks on the street in overhead shots or the number of pictures hanging on the wall behind Salinger's desk. Some interior shots contrast the rich, colorful tones of the exterior shots, with steely blues and grays, but no matter the scene, the transfer handles the material superbly. Blacks are dark and rich with several nighttime city exterior shots sparkling, and flesh tones look perfectly natural. The only downside is a slight bit of shimmering in a few background scenes, but nothing that detracts in the least from the presentation. The image enjoys a subtle layer of film grain, completing a visual tour-de-force that makes The International's Blu-ray transfer one of the most film-like yet, and it is definitely a contender, if not the front-runner, for best Blu-ray transfer of 2009.
The International Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The International bursts onto Blu-ray with a strong Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The film begins with an exterior shot in the midst of a pouring rainstorm, and from that moment on, listeners will find themselves completely immersed in the soundtrack. In this particular scene, rain not only pours but slams into the ground and car windshields with a noticeable presence, the entire soundstage playing the sounds of the downpour to realistic effect. Most every other effect impresses, too, and the track never shies away from creating a realistic atmosphere that pulls audiences into the film in support of the story and visuals. Whether the sound of ringing ears that feature a high-pitched tone penetrating the listening area or ambient crowd noise at an outdoor political rally, the track always places listeners in the midst of the action. The track also delivers the film's score to fine effect, its solid, deep lows rumbling the gut on several occasions. Dialogue is also delivered crisply and effectively through the middle. Finally, the shootout sounds as good as it looks. It's a majestic sonic experience as each shot bangs through the soundstage with the utmost in clarity and power. The rattling of the submachine guns as they fire off bursts of bullets reverberates throughout the soundstage, and the resulting destruction -- whether holes in the walls, holes in flesh, or the crashing of glass -- sparkles through the clarity of the lossless soundtrack. The International delivers a powerful, clear, and precise soundtrack that rounds out a fantastic Blu-ray experience.
The International Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The International arrives on Blu-ray with a good selection of bonus materials. Leading things off is a commentary track with Director Tom Tykwer and Writer Eric Singer. This pair deliver a suitably interesting track and cover the expected gamut of information, including the film's style, writing techniques, the origins of the picture and assembly of cast and crew, the story's roots in reality, the character's backgrounds, dissecting the shootout sequence, and plenty more. 'The International' Experience: Picture-in-Picture is a Blu-ray profile 1.1 Bonusview feature that offers behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interview snippets in a very small secondary window over the film. Topics range from the origins of the story, character evolution over the years, shooting particular scenes, creating graphics for the film, and more. The window does not remain throughout every scene.
Next up is the self-describing Salinger & Whitman -- Extended Scene (1080p, 11:23). Making 'The International' (1080p, 30:07) is a piece that features much of the same material as found in the picture-in-picture track but offered here full-screen and separate from the running film. Shooting at the Guggenheim (480p, 6:32) examines the construction of a fake museum suitable for shooting the intense, bloody, and bullet-ridden action sequence. The Architecture of 'The International' (1080p, 6:13) looks at the role of modern architecture in the film. The Autostadt (1080i, 5:04) features a glimpse into the segment of the film shot at the famed Volkswagen location. Also included is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality, CineChat, and 1080p trailers for Waltz With Bashir, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Passengers, Casino Royale, Damages: Season One, The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut, What Doesn't Kill You, Blood: The Last Vampire, Vantage Point, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and The Informers.
Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the film. Sampled on a second generation iPod Touch, the picture quality exhibits strong resolution, color rendition, and details. Blocking remains a slight problem throughout, though. On the other hand, the audio presentation satisfies to a greater degree than the video, offering good dialogue reproduction and strong sound effects across the two channels. Sound flows nicely between the two, clarity is above-average, and the shoot-out scene features crisp and aggressive gunshots.
The International Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Smart, somewhat original, and beautifully filmed, The International makes for a strong two hours worth of entertainment that both challenges audiences to remain focused on the film and entertains in its many chase sequences and singular extended shootout. Offering up a timely plot and a realistic ending that eschews typical movie convention, The international delivers a surprisingly good experience and represents one of the better international thrillers of the past several years. Sony's Blu-ray disc is a marvel. Sporting an incredibly clear, clean, and film-like reference-quality picture, an equally satisfying soundtrack, and plenty of extra materials, The International makes for a solid package and comes with a strong recommendation.
The International Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - June 9th - June 9, 2009
With over 50 years in front of the camera, and over 30 years behind it, Clint Eastwood's dynamic ability to entertain audiences worldwide has yielded the 79-year-old icon many Oscar statues. Today, Warner Brothers is releasing his latest film 'Gran Torino' on Blu-ray, ...
• The International Gets Detailed - April 13, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The International', which is due to hit store shelves on June 9th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 2.40:1 ...
• The International Coming this June to Blu-ray - April 6, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring the Clive Owen film 'The International' to Blu-ray on June 9th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Technical specs have yet to be announced, but you can expect ...
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