Film Review: Our Kind of Traitor


★★★☆☆
After The Night Manager wowed audiences on the BBC, now another John le Carré adaptation comes to the silver screen. This time it's Our Kind of Traitor, a contemporary espionage thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Harris. The duo star as Perry and Gail, a couple of Londoners on a make-or-break holiday in Marrakesh, who are approached by Russian millionaire Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). Dima instantly takes a shine to Perry, whose swept away to a mansion when Gail is called away for business.

Before long, Dima's true motive becomes clear, with Perry reluctantly concedes to transfer information back to the British Intelligence in order to try and secure asylum for Dima and his family, not quite understanding the full extent his rash decision will have on his safety, life and marriage. Scripted by Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini, Our Kind of Traitor is a slickly directed thriller that bears many of the typical twists and turns you'd expect from a le Carré tale. It contains many conspiracies and double-crossings, with everything not as it seems. Perry quickly becoming the middle-man between the British Intelligence - specifically Hector (Damien Lewis) and Dima, much to the dismay of Gail.

As the twosome bond with Dima more, they slowly but surely start to understand his plight and see him as a devoted family man simply wanting to do the right thing for his loved ones. McGregor delivers a steady performance, matched by Harris, who's become somewhat of a stand-out in the more recent Bond films. Their relationship is a firm focus of the films and provides it with heart in the face of continuing complications and twists. It's perhaps unsurprising that it's Skarsgård who steals the show, his Dima a boisterous and affable Russian who hides his fear underneath an entirely contrasting exterior. He's a compelling character, and it's interesting to see Skarsgård take on a role that has a little bit more under the bonnet than usual.

Apart from that, there's not much in Our Kind of Traitor that hasn't been done better elsewhere. The pace is flat at times, lacking the energy of other le Carré adaptations. It's sleekly made, though that becomes a bit of an issue when the film attempts to rough things up in the latter half. Still, as said, it's a finely made thriller that's a little bit more contemporary than other le Carré adaptations before it, and allows the central trio a chance to shine and Lewis to do some weird things with his accent and mouth as a weirdly laid back and unconcerned British agent.

Jamie Neish | @EmptyScreens

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