Sunday, May 22, 2016


OUR KIND OF TRAITOR is a spy thriller directed by Susanna White (PARADE'S END) and adapted by Hossein Amini (THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY) from a novel by John le Carre.  It stars Ewan McGregor as a feckless cheating academic who tries to redeem himself in his own and his wife's eyes by carrying a message from a Russian mafia money launderer to MI6.  Problem is, aforementioned gangster (Stellan Skarsgaard) doesn't trust the British government to get his family to safety and demands that the husband and wife (Naomie Harris) take part in the negotiations as a vouchsafe.  This is a wise move, as the British spy making the negotiations (Damian Lewis) is in the midst of some backroom politics orchestrated by a corrupt politician (Jeremy Northam).  The result is a thriller than attempts to work on two levels - will the couple and the spies get both the mafiosi and his family out of harm's way?  And will his information expose the corruption at the heart of the City of London?

Sadly, the film fails on all counts. Skarsgaard is horribly mis-cast as the mafioso, Dima.  He makes no attempt at a Russian accent and just acts bigger and louder.  He doesn't come across as a successful financier at all.  McGregor is good as the feckless spy but poor Naomie Harris has very little to do. And Damian Lewis is over-styled and over-broad in his performance - playing a kind of caricature of the over-confident British spy - as if auditioning for some kind of 1970s spy film, or that godawful recent movie remake of TINKER TAILOR.  Behind the camera lens, director Susanna White has no idea how to create a sense of tension in directing action. Scenes in a French sports club are almost laughably absurd as spies and mafiosi dip in and out of steamy saunas and massage rooms.  And the very conceit that somehow an ordinary couple could double up and help out MI6 in extraditing a source is just patent nonsense.  Finally, the film (and arguably the book's) heavy-handed political agenda is just too obvious and lacking in nuance to be interesting.  

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR has a running time of 108 minutes and is rated R. The movie is on release in Italy, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Croatia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Serbia, Russia, Estonia, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Sweden and Lithuania.  It opens in June in Israel, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the Philippines, Belgium and France; in July in the USA, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Singapore, Australia, Greece and Brazil; on August 4th in Thailand; on August 18th in New Zealand; on October 21st in Japan and on November 18th in Spain.

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