Our Kind Of Traitor


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Our Kind Of Traitor
"You have to know your enemy. If everyone is an enemy, where's the tension?"

Thrillers have become complex puzzles. They treat the audience like grown ups. It is rare to find anything as straightforward as Air Force One these days. Blame it on Jason Bourne. Everyone is corrupt. Nothing is as it seems. And yet Our Kind Of Traitor is based on a novel by John Le Carre, the Tinker as well as the Master of spy fiction.

Ewan McGregor plays Perry Makepeace, an English teacher on holiday with his wife (Naomie Harris) in Morocco, who becomes embroiled, through no fault of his own, in a plot involving the British secret service, an asylum-seeking oligarch, known as the world's No 1 money launderer, and the Russian mafia.

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Dima (Stellan Skarsgard) behaves like Tony Soprano on personality overdrive, expecting loyalty and respect, with genuine emotional ties to his family, which includes the twin daughters of a colleague who was murdered by hired assassins.

He wants to make contact with MI6 to do a deal before he is forced to sign over his business to the mafia in Bern. For a guarantee of safe passage he is prepared to provide the names of those in high places who have benefited from his services. He chooses Perry as his go-between because he was the only Englishman in the restaurant that evening.

This is where it gets complicated. Hector (excellent low key performance from Damien Lewis) is put in charge of the Dima affair despite appearing to be outside MI6's inner circle. Trust is in short supply and Perry's apparent innocence seems naive, foolhardy or something else.

The guns are out, not literally, although that too. Can Dima deliver? Will he be killed before he signs? After? Never? What about the family? Are the British honorable or, like everyone else, manipulative cynical liars?

Dima likes to play tennis. He plays with Perry. What game is Hector playing? In the end, you don't care. Subtlety and confusion are joined at the lip.

You have to know your enemy. If everyone is an enemy, where's the tension?

On the plus side the acting is a delight. On the minus side Hossein Amini's adaptation takes too much for granted.

Grown ups have slowed down. They need a little help sometimes. Like what the **** is going on?

Reviewed on: 02 May 2016
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Caught between the British Secret Service and the Russian mafia, an oligarch with nefarious secrets uses an English teacher on holiday in Morocco to help secure political asylum.
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Director: Susanna White

Writer: Hossein Amini, based on the novel by John le Carré

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Mark Stanley, Alicia von Rittberg, Mark Gatiss, Saskia Reeves, Alec Utgoff, Pawel Szajda, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Velibor Topic, Khalid Abdalla, Radivoje Bukvic

Year: 2016

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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