Our Kind of Traitor

First Hit:  Really nice build up for first half,  just sustains the intensity through the back half, but ends quite nicely.

My wife mentioned to me that she thought “Our Kind of Traitor” is a lackluster title for a film and I agree.

There are a couple of stories going on in this film:  First we have and see a Perry and Gail (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts respectively) struggling as a married couple. And second we have a Russian laced espionage thriller. How do these two stories meet? Struggling as a couple, Perry and Gail are on holiday in Morocco to try to bring some romance back into their ten-year relationship.

They are very different people; Perry is a poetic professor at a prestigious university and Gail is a workaholic lawyer who makes a lot of money. In a Moroccan restaurant, Gail gets a work call and has to leave so Perry gets propositioned by a gregarious Russian named Dima (Stellan Skarsgard) to join his party for a drink. Dima takes a liking to Perry and invites him to a late night party followed by an early morning tennis match. Their friendship grows and Dima asks Perry to deliver a thumb drive to MI6 in London when he returns home.

As head money launderer for the Russians, Dima suspects he and his family will be killed soon after a bank deal transpires in London. Gail thinks Perry is not doing a smart thing by going through with the delivery but despite her opinion, he follows through.

The tale heats up after they deliver the thumb drive to MI6 Agent Hector (Damian Lewis) but starts to fall off in intensity as the cat and mouse game begins to drag on. However, in the end, Dima wants to save his family, Perry and Gail may get closer, and Hector wants to put a nail in the coffin of his former boss whom he suspects as selling his soul and being a traitor.

McGregor was perfect because he portrayed the intelligence, compassion and integrity this role required. Watts was wonderful as the smart, quick witted wife while in the end wholly supporting her husband’s actions. Skarsgard was sublime. His intensity, deep boisterous growls, and single-minded objective made him the right man for this role. Lewis was adroitly a great choice as the MI6 agent, who was willing to move outside the box to follow his revenge. Hossein Amini wrote a good screenplay from the John le Carre novel. And despite the strong start and mediocre back half, Susanna White’s direction, in the end, brought the whole thing together rather well.

Overall:  One of the better film versions of a John le Carre story.