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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Our Kind of Traitor movie review: ordinary everyday spies

Our Kind of Traitor yellow light

Smartly elegant; the fantastic cast makes it worth your time. But it does feel as if it belongs on the small screen spread across six or eight hours.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A holiday in Morocco doesn’t seem to be working to respark the romance between mild-mannered professor Perry (Ewan McGregor: Jane Got a Gun) and high-powered lawyer Gail (Naomie Harris: Spectre), but maybe a bit of international intrigue will do the trick? Perhaps it’s rather implausible that Russian mobster Dima (Stellan Skarsgård: Avengers: Age of Ultron) would recruit Perry to act as a go-between for him with MI6 — Dima wants to defect and bring a crapload of info about shady dealings in London’s financial centers — but it’s just plausible enough to carry off the ensuing spy shenanigans back across London and into Paris. The fantastic cast — which also features Damian Lewis (The Sweeney) as an MI6 handler who is even more slippery than usual, and Jeremy Northam (Eye in the Sky) as a corrupt member of Parliament — makes this worth your time… just about. If you loved the recent fabulous TV adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager, well, you probably won’t love this one quite as much.tweet Director Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns) make a valiant effort at trying to impart an air of the cinematic to the story, also via le Carré, and there is smart elegance here, but it still does end up feeling as if it belongs on the small screen. The inescapable comparison with Manager underscores how much better Traitor would be given more time to develop its intriguing central characters — ordinary people playing spy! — across a longer storytelling form… ideally, six or eight hours of television.

yellow light 3 stars

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Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
US/Can release: Jul 01 2016
UK/Ire release: May 13 2016

MPAA: rated R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong sex, violence, drug use, sexual violence)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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