From the mind of John Le Carré comes a very entertaining and tense thriller.
Over the last few years there has been a string of good adaptations of Le Carré’s work. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the BBC hit show The Night Manager have paved the way for more of this Writers work to be brought into motion. Here, while probably not as deep as those two projects, Our Kind of Traitor makes you sit up and pay attention none the less.
So Ewan McGregor plays a Husband who is trying to put his marriage back together after what we have to piece together was an affair. A Professor at an English University who slept with one of his students, he takes his beautiful Lawyer wife to Morocco to rebuild the trust and the marriage. While there he finds himself taken under the wing of Russian Gangster Stellan Skarsgård. Skarsgård’s character is trying to save his life and the life of his family by getting information to British Intelligence as a young Mafia Boss is clearing house and trying to open a bank in London. Using McGregor to smuggle a USB drive through customs and to the hands of the British Intelligence service it starts a chain of events that leads the Professor deep into the world of the Russian Mafia and trying to do the right thing for someone he barely knows.
There is a lot to enjoy here. You have Skarsgård stealing the whole film with his performance as the over the top and crazy Russian Gangster who knows all the numbers for their bank accounts. To be honest for years I never even attempted to spell Skarsgård’s name properly, I always just called him the Math Professor from Good Will Hunting. McGregor is great too, starring as a man who is trying to repair his marriage and his belief in himself. He feels as though helping this stranger is part of his healing process and while helping and healing his life gets ever more complicated as British Intelligence rely on him more and more to help bring Skarsgård in to give them the information that they need. Damian Lewis plays the complicated and deep Officer for the British Intelligence service who is hell-bent on bringing down a corrupt English Politician who is helping the Gangsters. His motivations are shown and explained which is a great touch as sometimes it’s an easy option to just say he’s dedicated to his job. He is, but the back story to this character drives him like an unstoppable force, so you really get to understand his commitment to bringing this Politician down. Playing McGregor’s wife is Miss Moneypenny to this new generation Naomie Harris and I have to give her massive amounts of credit because what could have been a one-dimensional role is lifted up by her intensity.
This is a film where you have to pay attention. If you are one of those losers who can’t seem to just disappear from social media for a couple of hours or need to share how uncomfortable your chair is at every point in the film then you may get lost and you may also get your ear flicked. The flicking of these losers ears is something that I can’t tell you all to do but once I get that Jedi mind trick working I’ll be suggesting to a few people.
As we travel from Morocco to London to around different European cities we’re brought into the different worlds of the different characters. With Skarsgård stealing every scene, as the best written character in the film, you start to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. Each one of the main characters has their life explored more than your usual film. The only thing I found was that the main Russian villain is a paper-thin bad guy. You can also see a few of the twists happening from a mile off and in a thriller that’s never a good thing.
Our Kind of Traitor is a great flick, I’d happily return to the cinema to watch this, I’ll probably end up buying whatever format disc it comes out on, and would sit down to watch this any night it came on TV. The small problems it has are washed over by the performances and an above average script. Beautiful surroundings and a pleasant score help to. Worth checking out.
Director: Susanna White
Writers: Hossein Amini (screenplay), John le Carré (novel)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris