Thursday, July 7, 2016

Movie Review #450: "Our Kind of Traitor" (2016)

Movie"Our Kind of Traitor"
Director: Susanna White
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
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A college professor of poetics (Ewan McGregor) gets roped into acting as a liaison between a Russian mafia accountant (Stellan Skarsgård) trying to defect and the British secret service.

Directed by Susanna White, "Our Kind of Traitor" is a thriller adapted from the novel of the same name written by John le Carré. Other movies adapted from le Carré's books include "The Constant Gardner," "Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy," and "A Most Wanted Man," which we absolutely loved. This film stars Ewan McGregor as Perry, a poetry professor who is vacationing in Marrakesh with his wife Gail, played by Naomie Harris, who is a successful barrister in England. Perry's life is sent down a completely dangerous and unexpected path when he meets Dima, played by Stellan Skarsgård, who seems like a harmless but boisterous bar patron who invited Perry for a drink one night. Perry will soon find out Dima is a Russian mafia accountant trying to defect. Perry agrees to take a flash drive to the British secret service when he returns home to England and figures that'll be the end of it. What Perry believes to be a one-time act of kindness actually puts him and his wife in the middle of this ordeal, putting their lives in danger as he continues to act as liaison between the two parties.

The first thing we asked ourselves upon leaving "Our Kind of Traitor" is what stranger in their right mind would do a favor for someone known they are a Russian mobster? We like to think we're inherently good people, but would we do a favor for a Russian mobster? We figure the answers are "a total nut-job" and " not bloody likely," though that doesn't mean it wouldn't happen, and apparently according to the movie, Perry just happens to be one person that would do such a thing. If you are willing to accept this premise, that an unassuming college professor of poetics would put himself and the life of his wife in danger to save the life of a Russian criminal he hardly knows, you'll likely enjoy this film. McGregor, Harris, and Skarsgård all put on solid performances and are very convincing in each of their parts. Dima is a loud, over-the-top, boisterous, constant center of attention, and Skarsgård does a fantastic job selling this larger than life personality, even when his character himself is only acting this part. It's always a privilege to watch McGregor work, and it's nice to see Harris acting outside of the James Bond films as we've always liked her performances in that series. There are many times McGregor and Harris have to convey a sense of discomfort to the audience with what's going on and what they've gotten themselves into, and they're both very convincing and do a great job playing off of Skarsgård's loudness. Damian Lewis is also in the film playing Hector, the secret service agent Perry contacts about the flash drive once he returns home to England. Lewis also does a good job playing an MI6 agent, though he is not the type of spy that runs down perpetrators, gets in car chases, or participates in shootouts. In fact, this really isn't that kind of spy thriller. There are a few action sequences and a moment or two of brutal gun-play, but overall, "Our Kind of Traitor" is about the dramatics, the tension, and the constant threat of being caught rather than violence or glorifying that violence when it does happen.

In the end, this is a good thriller that will keep you entertained. It might not be the best movie, but it's a decent rental type of watch if you get past the initial premise and a fully naked Skarsgård.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "True Lies"

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