by Rick Grant
Grade: B+ / Rated R / 118 min
In this cautionary tale, a well connected international bank is controlling arms sales by lending the money to make these purchases to rogue nations. They are into money laundering and destabilizing governments to sell arms to their adversaries. In other words, whoever controls the debt controls the movement of weapons and other funds. The bank’s influence is pervasive with its poison tentacles in every nation’s leadership and police department.
An Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) have joined forces to investigate this bank. They have evidence that anyone who opposes the bank’s deals ends up dead from accidents or heart attacks. Salinger is convinced these deaths are murders and the bank’s CEO is having people killed to cover up his illicit dealings.
The David and Goliath tale pits Salinger and Whitman against powerful forces of greed and influence. When one of the bank’s henchmen (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is arrested, he tells Salinger that “It’s too big to bring down”.
Nonetheless, Salinger and Whitman track down leads that turn up disturbing evidence that substantiate their theory that the bank will stop at nothing to protect their vast ill-gotten gains. Of course, by investigating the bank, Salinger and Whitman have become targets themselves. This creates suspense and thrilling action as Salinger and Whitman get close to the top of the bank’s chain of command with physical evidence.
The two high level detectives travel to exotic locations tracking down suspects and possible informants, but by the time they get to their destination, their witness is dead of what looks like natural causes. The two sleuths get very frustrated by the bank’s ability to derail their investigation.
Watts and Owen have compatible on-screen chemistry but no romantic involvement. Hey, no time for sex! Their characters are driven by a strong sense of justice and outrage that a bank could pull off capital crimes and get away with it. Owen is focused and intense as Agent Salinger, who rarely sleeps and is driven by his personal vendetta because the bank has killed some of his friends. And yes, in one case he can prove it. But their arrested bank executive was right-the bank can reach out and kill anyone who gets in their way, and not miss a beat.
Directed by Tom Tykwer and written by Eric Warren Singer, the script is tight and compliments the action surprisingly well. Tykwer orchestrated the action with a keen eye for creating thrilling sequences. The shootout at the Guggenheim Museum is spectacular. The bank sent in a hit-team armed with Uzis to kill another hitman and Salinger.
The bloody battle trashes the museum and kills or wounds many bystanders. It was a brazen assault that demonstrated the power of the bank’s influence. If they were willing to stage this high profile military-styled attack in broad daylight, then they didn’t care about the consequences. Anyone who could hurt the bank was eliminated-period!
This action-intrigue scenario is an adrenalin pumping experience for the audience. It’s plausible that a corporation or huge bank could wield this much power. Money talks volumes and can solve most any problem. But this bank never counted on Salinger’s determination to get justice-legally or not!