#REVIEW: “OUR KIND OF TRAITOR”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
The name John le Carré evokes images of hard-nosed Russian spies battling wits and trading shots with dapper MI5 agents who have spent their lives cracking global espionage conspiracies and saving the world with no thoughts to fame or fortune. Our Kind of Traitor is a slight departure from the norm; while there are still Russians, dapper Englishmen, and MI5 agents aplenty, the movie has them join forces in a plot that is less about conquering the world than it is about conquering the financial markets.
While on vacation in Marrakesh with his wife, Perry Makepeace (Ewan McGregor) meets Dima (Stellan Skarsgård), the self-described “number one money launderer in Russia”. Their unbalanced friendship finds the coke snorting poetry professor in the role of mule when asked to deliver a thumb drive to MI5. The contents, he is assured, will help Dima and his family escape almost certain assassination by the The Prince – a power hungry, Russian who is preparing to open a bank in England thanks to several highly placed but trackable bribes.
Our Kind of Traitor is a Movie that frequently questions the honour of its characters. After an incident at a party Dima tells Perry, “You are a gentleman. A man of honour.” So too, Damian Lewis’ Hector is an MI5 agent with dubious motives and flexible morals when it comes to using Perry and his wife Gail (Naomie Harris) as tools to obtain further information from Dima. In fact, the primary motivation for virtually all protagonists is moral honour and family rather the typical, unimaginative greed.
Although Harris and McGregor put in fine performances, the Movie belongs to Skarsgård. He brings an incredible physicality to the tattooed Dima that not even his questionable Russian accent can overshadow. Only an actor of Skarsgård’s abilities could avoid becoming a bad caricature while uttering cringe-worthy lines like, “Don’t be a sour pussy.”
Hossein Amini’s script falls short of the Polish philosophers and Italian poets his characters enjoy referencing. His poorly drawn villain is so lacking it almost leaves the Movie without a clear antagonist. The Prince is a bad storyteller with interchangeable minions; despite the requisite shootouts this nebulous adversary never feels like a real threat.
Under Susanna White’s direction the gorgeously-shot Our Kind of Traitor is the sort of fun Thriller people used to love before green screens and explosion-a-minute Ation Flicks became so ubiquitous. Perry Makepeace is an everyman hero with a strong sense of right and wrong who is sure to win over audiences. By moving from Cold War espionage to white collar crime, Le Carré has proven yet again why he is the Prince of the genre.
eOne Films release OUR KIND OF TRAITOR on Friday, July 1, 2016.