Home > Reviews > THE INTERNATIONAL – Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek

THE INTERNATIONAL – Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The International is a contemporary – and somewhat prescient – action movie/political thriller starring Clive Owen as Louis Salinger, an Interpol agent who teams up with a Manhattan district attorney to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an international arms dealing ring. The film, which also stars Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Ulrich Thomsen, was directed by German leading light Tom Tykwer; as he did on his previous movies (notably Run Lola Run and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), Tykwer teamed up with regular collaborators Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek to provide the film’s score.

After the unexpectedly excellent neoclassicism of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The International is a return to the Heil and Klimek of old, in that it is essentially a synth rhythm score prettied up with a few sampled string lines here and there. Most of the score comprises shifting synth tones, industrial sound effects, and electronic rhythms and pulses, occasionally overlaid with a specific ‘color’ to make each cue a little more unique: tinkling synth strings and piano chords in “Salinger Comes Home”, a more rambunctious rhythm and rumbling timpani in “The Calvini Hit”, a sampled harp in “The Consultant’s Death”.

For long stretches, though, virtually nothing happens. Cues like “Salinger in Luxembourg”, “Bugs” and “The Guggenheim Shootout” offer virtually nothing in terms of musical creativity or an emotional connection. They’re just there, like a metronome, presenting the repetitive thump of an internal beat over and over, but doing little else. This score wouldn’t be so disappointing if I didn’t know what these composers were capable of; there’s no personality, no depth, no real point to this score other than to provide the film with tempo, add another layer to the sound effects, and occasionally add a slightly warmer pseudo-human touch to what is otherwise a cold chase thriller.

Scores like these really have no reason for existing outside of the film for which they were written; some electronic scores can be very exciting and entertaining, but unfortunately The International isn’t one of them. For long stretches, it’s like listening to an industrial mechanical hum, like the one your microwave might make while cooking your Lean Cuisine. Back to square one for Pale 3, I’m afraid.

Rating: *½

Track Listing:

  • Meeting Schumer (1:13)
  • Morgue (1:29)
  • Salinger Comes Home (0:31)
  • Wexler Meets the Consultant (2:04)
  • Salinger in Luxembourg (2:20)
  • Bugs (3:05)
  • The Calvini Hit (6:06)
  • Calvini Crime Scene Investigation (4:48)
  • Security Check (2:17)
  • Driving Into NYC (0:56)
  • The Isaacson Files (1:51)
  • Tailing the Consultant (3:46)
  • Inside the Guggenheim (1:26)
  • The Guggenheim Shootout (6:17)
  • The Consultant’s Death (1:55)
  • On the Way to Moody’s Bail Bonds (1:32)
  • The Wexler Interrogation (1:03)
  • Ella Leaves Lou/Calvini Headquarters (3:15)
  • Istanbul (2:20)
  • Chasing Jonas Skarssen (2:55)
  • End Title (9:13)

Running Time: 60 minutes 22 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6946 (2009)

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