The International

The International
Ronnie Tharp-Garber
Script-O-Meter: 5
Running time: 118 minutes
Genres: Thriller/Crime

Premise: When an Interpol agent loses his partner in a set-up, he attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an arms dealing ring. Designing Principle: Sometimes a man can meet his destiny on the road he took to find it.

Problem number 1 for the script: Wrong genres.
This was not an Action film. There were elements of Action genre in the story, but the Hero does not engage in Action as a way to carry the story line forward, simply because “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” The Hero does not use split second decision making with cross-cut. Yes, there is a battle scene at the Guggenheim Museum – A shoot-out that is bloody and gutsy. And the Hero does have to figure out how to save himself. But the entire story line is not the Action genre.

Also, this is not a Drama, which emphasizes the internal, intimate moral decisions of the Hero. Yes, the story contained Drama elements, but it was not the genre of Drama. The designing principle that is the key to the heart of the story is defined in the Tag Line: “Sometimes a man can meet his destiny on the road he took to find it.” Revenge is not sweet, nor does it make a problem go away, as the Opponent so rightly states to the Hero. The Hero must deal with his Desire/Goal for revenge throughout the story.

But the true spine of the story is encased in the genres of Thriller/Crime. We see the crime committed in the first 10 minutes of the story, and as an Inciting Incident, it serves to suck the Hero into action that will change his life forever. What could have been a story with intense Narrative Drive was lost because the screenplay writer decided to give this story a branching form, which took the audience off the Drive/Goal of the Hero.

The blond, attractive D.A. was an add-on because as it was written, the Opponent did not try to block her from achieving the Goal. The bank/Main Opponent went after other players instead of going after the Hero and the D.A. By branching out this way and having the bank knock off obstacles INSTEAD of having the bank focus on knocking off the Hero and the D.A., her role was a waste AND the Narrative Drive slowed down.

For the Thriller/Crime genre, the spine of the story must have intense Narrative Drive. When there are these two genres, the writer must make the decision as to which genre takes precedence for the spine. In the case of this story, the bank is knocking off opponents left and right – The bank should have been after the Hero and the D.A. This would have provided that punch-counterpunch that was lacking in the story. Also, the Hero and the D.A. would have been on the run while being pursued – which ups the Narrative Drive in this genre.

The character of one of the Opponents is used as a mouthpiece for the writer’s ideology – This is a no-no in story telling. The character loses his believability in the story and the message in his dialogue comes off as preachy. He’s a Communist and goes on about the good and bad points of this ideology. The Hero also mouths very predictable ideology on Communism, which takes the story completely off the Narrative Drive because it really has nothing to do with the Hero’s Desire/Goal. The Desire/Goal must be clear; must be one main Desire/Goal; the Hero must be passionate about achieving it. So this speech could have been edited out.

The assassin was also a contrivance and part of the branching story line that detracted from the main story line of Thriller genre, which should have had a linear shape to it. The assassin could have been written into the story with a connection to the Hero in some way, which would have upped the ante for the Narrative Drive.

The international locations were awesome, but again, the story went off the Narrative Drive by getting into the African nations issues and the Israeli/Arab issues, which should have been a montage or edited out because it slowed the Drive down. Cross-cut between various players associated with the bank would have increased the Narrative Drive in this genre – This would have given the blond D.A. a more intensive role instead of her having a car accident in the middle of the action to get her out of the action for a while, a contrivance again.

In summary, the story premise was high-concept, the acting and directing were stellar , but the script was highly lacking key ingredients – Had these flaws been dealt with, the film could have been as high energy as the Bourne series, yet with a decidedly sophisticated high finance angle that could have also capitalized on the exotic settings and cultures of the the story world where the Hero is fighting to come to grips with his main Desire/Goal. The film could have been a 10 had the script flaws been corrected.

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