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Our Kind of Traitor - Film Review

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published July 14th 2016
A John le Carre thriller
Holidaying in Morocco, British couple Perry (Ewan McGregor) and Gail (Naomi Harris) are trying to rekindle their relationship, without much success. Things get even worse when Perry makes a new friend. In a restaurant he is befriended by a charismatic Russian named Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). The pair hit it off and Dima is all of a sudden inviting Perry to lavish parties and games of tennis. But it turns out Dima is not just looking for a new friend – he is a Russian mobster no longer useful to the organisation and he (and his family) are soon to be killed. Dima shares this with his new friend and urges Perry to make contact with British intelligence. Dima will give up the mob in return for asylum in Britain.

Perry, a university professor with not much going on in his life, agrees to help Dima. Returning to London he passes along Dima's offer. MI6 operative Hector (Damian Lewis) gets the message and without the backing of his superiors, plunges into the case. Hector recruits Perry and Gail to act as go-betweens for Dima and the Brits and off everyone goes – through Europe (Paris, Switzerland, the Alps), racing to stay ahead of the mafia and Hector's bosses.

Based on a John le Carre novel, Our Kind of Traitor was directed by Susanna White. It features all the elements of vintage le Carre: exotic international locations, high-stakes chases and sharp plot twists. Some of the most stylish moments come at the beginning of the film during a sequence portraying a mobster and his family being murdered by the bosses in Russia, the same fate that awaits Dima if Perry and the Brits don't help him.


Skarsgård's portrayal of an ageing mobster is a highlight, despite having to deal with a few cheesy lines. McGregor remains a bit bemused through the entire thing – going from middle-aged academic to amateur MI6 operative doesn't seem to change his demeanor much, and you kind of think that after a few more years of it, he'd be just as bored as when he started. Naomi Harris and Damien Lewis are likeable throughout and make great goodies to counter the evil Russians.

But everyone is working off a solid base. Our Kind of Traitor mightn't be the highest of le Carre's highs, but it's from someone who knows what they are doing. The race from Marrakesh to London is worth the ride.

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Why? For an international thriller.
When: In cinemas from July 14
Where: Varies
Cost: Varies
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