HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Our Kind of Traitor
HTS Overall Score:75
The world of spy thrillers is just jam packed in both film and novels. Everyone knows the name James Bond thanks to Ian Fleming’s novels the subsequent 24 007 movies that have come out over the last several decades. However, there is another author of spy work that tends to get glossed over in the film world. That being John Le Carre. The man who brought us such films as “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, and “The Night Manager” (which is a VERY entertaining bit of film making). Le Carre tends to have a grittier, more procedural style to his books, and his films follow suit. There is less an emphasis on the charm and romanticism of the world of espionage, but a harsher take on the suffering and grueling details that it takes to become a success in that world. “Our Kind of Traitor” was one that I was originally completely willing to dismiss based upon the low budget nature of the film. Lionsgate and these generic action/thriller movies have NOT been a recipe for success, but I really do like Ewan McGregor so I decided to give it a whirl.
“Our Kind of Traitor” sets itself up with an opening montage. Some form of Russian or Eastern European meeting is taking place where numbers are exchanging hands and people are nervously tip toeing around one man in particular. An ornate pearl handled stainless steel Colt 1911 is given as a gift to a very nervous looking gentleman, wherein a short time later that man and his entire family are killed on the way back to their abode, and the very stylish weapon is taken back. Fast forward to Morocco, where English Professor Perry Perkins (Ewan McGregor) and his lovely wife, Gail (Naomie Harris, best known for the new Pennymoney in the Daniel Craig 007 films), are taking a romantic getaway together. Left by his lawyer wife for some unexplained work, Perry is invited over by a group of partying Russians and introduced to a drunken man named Dima (Stellan Skarsgard). One thing leads to another and soon Perry is partying it up with the Russian man and his friends. At the end of the night Perry finds out exactly WHY he was invited. Dima is Russian money launderer for one of the most exclusive criminals in Eastern Europe, known as the “The Prince”. He wants out and gives Perry a thumb drive with information on it to give to the British authorities.
Upon arriving home Perry hands over the thumb drive to the proper folks and thinks that it is behind him. Nothing could be further from the truth as Dima is actually looking to defect and using the bank information that he knows to leverage the British government into giving him and his family asylum. Information. Information that will implicated several traitors to the crown and give MI-6 just the kind of leverage it needs to clean house on the dirty politicians and agents in their employ. The problem is, the government doesn’t think it’s important enough, leaving an MI-6 agent to try and complete the defection. Only thing is that Dima refuses to comply unless Perry comes along. The one person he feels like he can trust. Now Perry and Gail are drawn into a world of espionage where they have to try and facilitate a defection to the U.K. of a man who has pertinent information to the crown, but only with the most rudimentary tools at their disposal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82697[/img]“Our Kind of Traitor” does a kind of tightrope walk between the normally gritty and down to earth Le Carre style and the more romanticized world of James Bond. The actual mechanics of the film are very much Le Carre. With heavy doses of grim realism and bouts of ferocious violence coming out of nowhere. Perry and Dima are both out of their element in their own respective way and it shows. Dima is struggling to try and trust someone with his life while Perry is doing his best to try and do the right thing when the British government appears to be hanging the money launderer out to dry at every turn. At the same time we’re living with the highly romanticized notion of Perry living out every man’s fantasy of being a super spy. Going behind enemy lines and getting the notorious criminal out by the skin of his teeth. It makes the film a bit less droll and tedious, which tends to be the case with some of his previous works (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” for one).
While the movie does get a bit slow in places, it keeps a brisk pace for a majority of the hour and forty eight minute film, and goes full throttle once Perry and the MI-6 operatives decide that they are pulling Dima out. Sadly that accounts for some of the more ludicrous “James Bond” type moments, such as Perry taking out Russian hitmen out in the forest, or going into a criminal underworld “den” to grab Dima and make a run for it. Mixing the two styles of Fleming and Le Carre together makes for a strange hybrid, but a solidly entertaining one nonetheless. McGregor is fantastic with Skarsgard and the two elevate the film to a level of enjoyment that would not have been possible without their inclusion (or at least their chemistry).
Rated R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82705[/img]“Our Kind of Traitor” appears from Lionsgate films with 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray that is listed as being filmed by Arri Alexa XT cameras. Most of the time the detail is razor sharp, but there are some strange cinematic and artistic choices that rob the film of being blockbuster levels of clear. There are long moments of darkness followed by sunlit scenes that look overly cooked in the white levels, creating a sort of halo and “shiny” effect that makes the whole sequence look like it’s drenched in an overabundance of flaring sunlight. Contrast levels are fairly normal, but skin tones look a bit creamy and sometimes grey due to the over boosted whites. Darkness shows some minimal banding, but it is fairly innocuous and the overall color grading fluctuates between golden honey in Morocco and teal and grey outside.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82713[/img]This is a John Le Carre spy film, so needless to say the affair is more than a bit dialog centric. Sure there are some booms and action oriented bits to liven up the sound stage, but primarily we’re dealing with a film that likes to listen to people talk. Vocals are appropriately crisp and clean, while centered right up front in the center channel. The front soundstage is a bit more active, with the sound of airports, tennis matches and airplanes taking off. Surrounds get a solid amount of energy flowing through them, but the LFE channel tends to be a bit mild. Not exactly surprising if you’ve ever watched a John Le Carre adapted film before. They are a bit less bombastic and explosive than your typical action movie.
• Deleted Scenes
• The Making of Our Kind of Traitor
• The Cast - Featurette
• The Story - Featurette
“Our Kind of Traitor” is a fun little spy thriller that kind of caught me by surprise. I fully expected to walk out hating the movie (or at least feeling very ambivalent to it) based upon the thriller/action films that have come out of Lionsgate recently starring ex “big name” actors, but the opposite happened. I was actually intrigued and drawn into the world of Perry and Dima and ended up having a blast with it. It’s still a bit slow and stodgy for those of us who grew up with the nonstop action and gadgets of 007, but the film is quite adept at keeping you interested with all sorts of little twists and nuances. Definitely recommended for a watch if you enjoy spy thrillers.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Carlos Acosta, Stellan Skarsgard
Directed by: Susanna White
Written by: Hossein Amini (Screenplay), John Le Carre (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 108 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Buy Our Kind of Traitor On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch
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