Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy’s Traders has all the unsaturated colour and shaky camerawork of a Bourne film with significantly fewer thrills, yet it still manages to impress on a low budget.
After losing their jobs at an unnamed trading bank known only as “the company”, manager Harry Fox (Killian Scott) and his fellow employees find themselves drifting. Lost without the 9-5 and its comfortable salary, the whey-faced accountants roam the grey streets of a nameless Irish city, followed only by a hand-held camera and a cynical voiceover. Fox has to hand back his flash company Audi and settle for a drab data-entry job. Computer engineer Vernon (John Bradley, channelling the trademark chubby optimism of his Game of Thrones character and even sporting his usual northern accent) decides he’ll start a business, while his colleagues mope and drink, one even committing suicide. After failing to gain clients, Vernon comes up with an unusual business plan: a website to arrange fights in which the suicidal unemployed battle to the death, with the winner receiving the loser’s entire life savings and assets in cash. After initially refusing, Fox gets stuck in, and several brutal, muddy wasteland brawls later he is £40k richer and eager for more, regretting only that “the hardest thing was not being able to tell anyone about it”.
Traders is a depressing Irish Fight Club for the recession era: well-acted, tough and cynical. The minimalist aesthetic and storytelling necessitated by the small budget leads to an action indie that’s low on excitement and glamour but big on its blunt metaphor for brutal capitalism and economic inequality. Despite its merits, after a grim 90 minutes the film grinds to a halt rather than climaxing. Most of the characters are dead, and those that live remain as trapped as they were at the beginning. There’s been no great societal upheaval or personal revelation, just a few desperate souls recklessly bargaining their lives, which they value as equal to their worldly goods. Fight Club ended with a bang but Traders ends with a whimper.
Traders is released nationwide on 29th July 2016.
Watch the trailer for Traders here: