Our Kind of Traitor
John le Carré’s latest spy thriller, Our Kind of Traitor, has been adapted into a film of the same name with some success. The performances by Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgard are notable, but do not make up for an unconvincing plot line.
McGregor takes the role of the valiant protagonist, Perry Makepeace (if the surname isn’t hint enough), a university professor on holiday in Morocco with his wife (Naomie Harris), who befriends Russian oligarch Dima (Skarsgard), accepting invitations to lavish parties. After becoming close to Makepeace, Dima tasks the professor with brokering the defection of Russia’s number one money launderer by giving information to MI6. Damian Lewis, as the erudite MI6 agent, wants to expunge any intel he can on the Russia Mafia, with the help of the innocent everyman, Perry.
Sounds like the makings of a riveting espionage drama but, unfortunately, Our Kind of Traitor is best described as average. It lacks the immense tension and palpable excitement of great spy thrillers and le Carré’s other work. The story is unconvincing from the start because of the unlikely motivations of McGregor’s character, after being faced with threatening bigwigs from the Russian mob. Nevertheless, the interactions with Skarsgard are highly entertaining as he curses almost every other word and struts around in the nude, fully tattooed.
Overall, Susanna White’s film is not as thrilling as one would hope, but it’s still worth the watch. What is most striking is the cinematography, which effectively suggests secrecy. Anthony Dod Mantle’s framing is brilliant, even in slight obscurity. Every shot is behind a gate, an ornament, a curtain, so the audience feels deep in shadow – a stunning effect to evoke tension and mystery.
Our Kind of Traitor is suspenseful and engaging, but somehow just misses the mark.
Our Kind of Traitor is released nationwide on 13th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Our Kind of Traitor here: