A United Nations interpreter overhears some chatter about an
assassination plot and is soon targeted by the would-be killers herself.
The Interpreter (2005)
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Written by Charles Randolph, Scott Frank, Steven Zaillian
Starring Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener,
Jesper Christensen, Yvan Attal, Earl Cameron
I've never been one for political thrillers. Somehow, the conspiracy web always seems to get harder and harder to follow. It's a damn shame for such a talented and versatile director like Sydney Pollack to end his career on such a mediocre note, but The Interpreter is a really dull, bloated thriller that features a one-note Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman butchering a South African accent. Plus, the script appears to go out of its way to explain why the African-born Sylvia Bloome is white instead of just, I don't know, casting a black actress in the part. But this was 2005, when Nicole Kidman was probably the first choice for an African-born, U.N. interpreter.
Sylvia (Kidman) overhears a couple of folks chatting about assassinating a globally-despised tyrant who is due to speak in front of the U.N. in days. She is seen and believes her life to be in danger, so she contacts the Secret Service, who send recently widowed agent Tobin Keller (Penn) to investigate and later protect her. Their relationship is built on shared grief, and I'm glad movie love didn't develop out of that, though it came close. The two-hour runtime means we have to go through a lot of hoops, dead ends, and conspiracies before we get to go home.
The Interpreter is a largely forgotten espionage thriller that doesn't have a whole lot going for it. The opening scene sets up leagues of intrigue, but we only go back to that a bit at a time. Mostly, we learn just how shady Sylvie's own past is, but the ending still ends up being predictable and by-the-numbers.