Monday, 18 July 2016

Film Review: Our Kind of Traitor


Our Kind of Traitor is a sleek, sombre spy film perfect for fans of pulpy airport novels.

Our Kind of Traitor sees a struggling married couple, Perry (Ewan McGregor) and Gail Perkins (Naomie Harris), swept up in a global political conspiracy after befriending a charismatic Russian mobster, Dima (Stellan Skarsgård), whilst holidaying in Morocco. Tasked with delivering important documents to MI6 that outline Dima’s intention to defect, the couple come face-to-face with some of the uglier truths of espionage when their British Intelligence contact, Hector (Damien Lewis), appears to be less than sympathetic to their cause.
 
The screenplay, penned by Hossein Amini, is adapted from a recent John le Carré novel of the same name, and much like other le Carré adaptations (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager), Our Kind of Traitor is rich with post-Cold War intrigue and tension. Veteran British TV director Susanna White handles the morass of murky morality well, slotting into the greyness of le Carré’s literary work with ease and delivering a sleek and sophisticated thriller angled towards adults who like their sleuths more pensive than punch-drunk.

The biggest issue with the narrative is how weak and uninteresting McGregor and Harris are as a married couple; whilst it’s refreshing to see a personal relationship such as this one thrust to the forefront of a film also concerned with international espionage, the chemistry just isn’t there – mostly because McGregor’s performance is so muted and restrained. His character offers little resistance to the demands of those around him, instead being pushed through his weak character arc (if you could call it that) by other more compelling characters.

Which is where Skarsgård comes in. The seasoned Swedish actor operates on a totally different plane to the rest of the cast, owing every scene and offering a captivating emotional counterpoint to the somewhat watery McGregor. Lewis is also a treat as the distrustful MI6 agent; his sharp performance transporting him home to the world of tightly plotted conspiracies and espionage jargon following his stint on Homeland.

Our Kind of Traitor would be an unmissable if it weren’t for McGregor’s shaky central performance and a slightly implausible second act that seems a little too easy or convenient. The movie doesn’t offer non-stop action and adventure akin to Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne, but it does capture the essence of its source material, by posing audiences with a meaty moral quandary and offering no clear-cut answer. 

The Verdict: 6.5/10


White and Amini have succeeded in threading a thick envelope of tension through the film, and this should be enough to satisfy audiences seeking something a little less boisterous and a little more meditative this July.

Our Kind of Traitor is in cinemas across Australia now.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...