Intelligently detailed, impressively mounted, absorbingly told and undeniably gripping, Sydney Pollack’s The Interpreter is a very satisfying movie—unless you’re seeking something more than a thriller that only superficially engages its political subject. It’s both a compliment to and a criticism of Pollack and the screenwriters (Charles Randolph, Scott Frank and Steve Zaillian of Schindler’s List) that the movie primes you for more than it delivers.
Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, an émigré from an African nation, Matobo, who works as an interpreter at the United Nations. Returning to her booth to fetch her things after a standard alert has closed down the General Assembly, she overhears two men whispering in the dialect of her country. She realizes that they’re planning to assassinate Matobo’s leader, Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), when he comes to New York.