Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Kind of Traitor: Like a Good Spy Thriller? This Isn't One of Them.

Movie Review: Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
Version: Library Borrow

Do you like a good spy thriller? I'm afraid Our Kind of Traitor isn't one of them. Instead, it's a slow-plodding mystery built around conspiracies between Russian oligarchs and their money handler on the one hand and British Intelligence and a rogue agent on the other hand. Caught in between is a British couple on holiday in Morocco.

Our Kind of Traitor features a decent cast. Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play the British couple. He's an unsuspecting professor charmed by Russian money handler Dima, played by Stellan Skarsgard, and she is a skeptical attorney who does her best not to play into Dima's charms. Over time they are both won over, risking their lives to help Dima try to work out a deal to turn evidence against a field of oligarchs and a slew of British assets in exchange for the safety of Dima's family. But British Intelligence doesn't want to play along. There are the usual chase scenes, death scenes, drinking scenes, sex parties, and what not. This involves spies, after all. But that's it!

You might almost think this was a Tom Clancy novel come to the screen, except it doesn't have the panache, the accurate detail, and the pacing of a Tom Clancy novel. Our Kind of Traitor moves along at the pace of a sloth on Benadryl, and it relies on a host of cliched memes about Russian oligarchs and British Intelligence, not to mention British professors and skeptical attorneys, instead of the kind of authentic and out-of-today's-headlines kinds of detail of a Clancy novel. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Now, there were actually spies involved in the film. I'll give it that. The scenes in Morocco were interesting. But you can't build a movie around that. And the title? What does "Our Kind of Traitor" have to do with what this film provided the viewer? I don't get it.

It wasn't a totally wasted hour and 48 minutes, but I can't recommend Our Kind of Traitor to anyone I expect to talk to again.

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