More financial wrongdoing!

Movie •••• Picture ••••½ Sound •••• Extras •••½
Money might not be the root of all evil, but according to this movie, it's responsible for most bad things. Here, Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) relentlessly pursues The International, a banking institution bent on controlling the world's money through dealings with criminal elements. Apparently, the bank will stop at nothing in dispatching people who get in its way, right down to sending a team of assassins to kill an agent in the middle of the day at the Guggenheim Museum! A little farfetched - but no more so than the Bourne epics. And today's disclosures of wrongdoing in the financial sector just serve to make the story more believable.

Owen is the perfect hero for this movie. He's tough but not indestructible. And because he's also a decent human being, you fear for his welfare - a fear that helps set up a lot of suspense. (Owen would have made a good 007. I wonder if he was considered for the role.) Naomi Watts co-stars as Salinger's U.S. counterpart, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman. There's obvious connection and affection between the two, but there's never any romantic dawdling. Director Tom Tykwer sticks to the main plot while slyly implying the rest.

The Blu-ray Disc is near demonstration-caliber. Images are detailed and smooth, with excellent contrast and color balance. The sharp picture helps make that big shootout in the museum incredibly exciting. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix helps, too, as the sound seems to correctly match all of the bullets that tear through the museum walls, the corridors, and bodies.

One of the production extras is devoted to that scene and discloses that the filmmakers actually had to construct their own museum interior because, well, they could scarcely shoot up the original. Using the Guggenheim blueprints, they certainly did a bang-up job. There are three more featurettes as well as an extended scene that sheds light on the Salinger-Whitman relationship. Almost all of these extras are in high-def, as is one of the Blu-ray exclusives, a PIP commentary that is quite effective. There's also an excellent audio commentary by Tykwer along with screenwriter Eric Singer.

BD-Live is represented by the inclusion of CineChat, which I have found to be a useless feature. If you wanted to talk to your friends about the movie while you were actually watching the movie (who does that?), you'd pick up your iPhone. It's a heck of a lot faster. Finally, for those who need to have this movie with them wherever they go, there's a digital copy.