There are certain films that will forever be remembered for one scene. Of those films, there are two types. The first are the movies that are so bad that if not for that one memorable moment, you would have gone and demanded your money back. The second are the good movies that swell until finally smacking you with that one scene that's just surprising or really satisfying.
This film belongs in the latter category. It's intriguing, and, thanks to the performance of Clive Owens, you become involved in the murder mystery. There is somewhat of a quiet build that may turn some people off. However, it all comes to a head about two-thirds through the film with a shootout scene that makes the whole experience worth the price of admission.
Forget the socioeconomic scandal, the capitalistic corruption, or the country-crossing crimes brought up in the movie. You will definitely leave this film thinking about this one scene. For Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), it was the shower scene that people will forever remember. For High Fidelity (2000), it was John Cusack holding the stereo over his head. For A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), it was Marlon Brando screaming, "Stella!" For The French Connection (1971), it was that car chase.
For this film, it's hands-down the shootout scene in the Guggenheim Museum. From start to finish, this one scene is a thrill ride, so well crafted, so well executed, and so very entertaining. It was literally a shot of fun in this very serious film that was inspired by real events.
Clive Owens (Sin City and Children of Men) plays Louis Salinger, a British agent with Interpol. Salinger is investigating the activities of the IBBC. IBBC is a large bank that Salinger believes is doing illegal weapons deals with various foreign countries. As a result, he believes the bank is responsible for several murders, including the assassination of an Italian politician.
Salinger is frustrated as he realizes that the bank is at times run like a mafia organization and that any evidence he gets, the bank quickly eliminates. He's also frustrated because Interpol is not a law enforcement agency. It merely gathers intelligence. It's up to the individual nations to act, but bureaucracy always stifles them.
Therefore, Salinger takes it upon himself to go after this large bank without the government's help. He's aided by Eleanor Whitman, a New York district attorney played by Naomi Watts in a good role that doesn't make her just a sidekick or a damsel in distress. Salinger also gets help from Colonel Wexler, a former Communist and IBBC insider, played by Oscar-nominee Armin Mueller-Stahl (Shine and Eastern Promises).
Directed by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, the film wrestles with themes of injustice and revenge. It's really a David vs. Goliath tale that doesn't question if one small man can defeat this immense organization. It questions more what will it take or what is that one man willing to do in order to bring it down.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated R for some sequences of violence and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 58 mins.