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Movie Review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen
Director: Tom Tykwer

I wonder if writer Eric Warren Singer could have known how timely the release of his film about corrupt money grabbing banks would be. At a time when banks and global finance are making headlines, this film is very apt indeed.

Clive Owen plays Nick Salinger a former UK policeman now working for Interpol who is determined to prove that IBBC, a global bank with ties to many governments and political parties, are corrupt. Joined by Naomi Watts as Eleanor Whitman in a somewhat underwritten part, we are taken on our own global tour as Salinger and Whitman try to tie the bank to a corrupt arms deal.

Director Tom Twyker has crafted a good old fashioned political thriller which harks back to such films as ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN and THE FRENCH CONNECTION. It takes its time to build its story and for the most part does not rely on big set pieces. The filmmakers have a good eye for their settings. The modern and the ancient architecture of Europe are used as great backdrops to the financial drama.

In Clive Owen he has well painted anti-hero. Motivated as much by desire for revenge as he is by a sense of justice, he is a downbeat and very real character. Far from indestructible we are first introduced to him when he is hit by a car whilst trying to rescue a colleague. He wears his scars throughout the rest of the film.

The film too has a sense of reality even as it whisks us from Germany to Italy to New York and then to Turkey. Based loosely on a true story, the financial intrigue is very believable and the central players in the bank are far from being Bond villains. Armin Muehler-Stahl lends his usual class to a role that could have been the pantomime baddie but it is to the films credit that everyone has their reason for their actions.

The scene in the script that convinced Twyker to direct this film is a complex and massive shootout scene in the iconic Guggenheim museum in New York. Reconstructed on a film lot in Berlin (and when you see the destruction wrought on the building you’ll understand why) the scene is a brilliant and memorable set piece.

Unfortunately the rest of the film after this point struggles to capture its brilliance and after his scene it starts to descend into cliches and weaker plotting. It feels as if all of the Twyker’s passion is leading up to the Guggenheim scene and once that has been dispensed with, he cannot wait to finish the film as quickly as possible. Perhaps there were pacing problems but it feels as if whole scenes had been removed to get to the ending quicker.

There is a lot to love about this film. Clive Owen proves again that he makes a fine if quirky leading man. Tom Twyker shows some of the skill that made RUN LOLA RUN such an exciting film and the story itself could be better timed. Despite its faults, it is a well-made and solidly acted thriller that deserves a wide audience.

4 out of 6 stars