OUR KIND OF TRAITOR (UK/France 2016) ***

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our_kind_of_traitor.jpgOUR KIND OF TRAITOR (UK/France 2016) ***

Directed by Susanna White

Starring: Carlos Acosta, Radivoje Bukvic, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Ewan McGregor

Review by Gilbert Seah

The new John Le Carre film scripted by Hossein Amini is a spy thriller quite different from what audiences have seen in the past. The main character is now an academic, Perry Makepeace, played by Ewan McGregor. McGregor appears in more relaxed Mode compared to Richard Burton, Alec Guinness or Gary Oldman in THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD and SOLDIER, TAILOR, TINKER, SPY respectively. This is not necessarily a bad thing as White’s treatment of Le Carre’s material has a more feminine – more human touch. This is a huge contrast to the last major Le Carre film adaptation by Tomas Alfredson, the chilling and excellent SOLDIER, TAILOR, TINKER SPY.

The story here is simple and much more straight forward compared to the extremely hard to follow SOLDIER, TAILER, TINKER, SPY. After Perry is offered a tennis game by Russian mafioso, Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), he is ‘recruited’ by him to help him and his family defect. A sort of mixed STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and TORN CURTAIN Hitchcockian story, White’s film plays well blending the cold blooded spy game with a more human aspect. With this main plot, the story weaves in some choice bits of political debate.

Director White is quick to point out that it is not only the Russian mob that are the bad guys in the movie. There is also something very nasty within the British Intelligence as there is in every character in the story. Even Perry is a philandering husband and not one to make his long suffering wife, Gail (Naomie Harris) happy as she is one to point out the faults of her partner. But surprisingly, both Perry and Gail have a change of heart to protect Dima at all costs. In the process their marriage is saved.
As in a Le Carre story, fans will not be disappointed with the plot twists, swift cold blooded killings, car chases and exotic locations, in this case Marrakech, the Alps and the cities of London and Moscow. The film has the look of the spy thrillers of the 60’s and 70’s. But the Carre story is updated with modern technology such as the downloading of key information (bank account numbers) into a usb memory stick.

The humour is also slick. When asked by Perry the reason he was picked, Dima’s reply was that he was the only one left in the restaurant. But a good pick Perry is. A lot of the humour is also derived from Dima’s behaviour – how he changes from kindness shown to his family to cold brutality.

The film contains a few outstanding performances that make the movie. Among them are Stellan Skarsgard’s flamboyant and hyper ex-Russian mafioso Dima and Damian Lewis’ Hector who starts off following British red tape and ends up fighting against it. Jeremy Northam (PRIEST, THE WINSLOW BOY) has a cameo as Aubrey Longriegg, a treacherous British politician.

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR is a milder but still entertaining Le Carre thriller.

 

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