Our Kind of Traitor has all the earmarks of an enjoyable, if disposable, contemporary thriller: intrigue, exotic locales, evil Russians, Moneypenny from the James Bond movie Spectre, a John le Carré pedigree, and Ewan McGregor looking frightened.
But, unfortunately, the predictable sum is less than its potentially entertaining parts.
McGregor is Perry Makepeace, a British university professor on vacation in Morocco with his wife, Gail (Naomie Harris aka Moneypenny). Their marriage is in trouble and it’s something Russian mobster Dima (Stellan Skarsgard) picks up on when he spies them across a restaurant.
After Gail walks out, Dima invites lonely Perry over for a drink with his Russian pals.
Dima lures Perry deeper into an instant friendship (they bond even more over a tennis game the next day) and then Dima reveals his true motive: He believes his new boss, dubbed The Prince (Grigoriy Dobrygin), is going to kill him and his family.
As Dima doesn’t have faith in any of his henchmen, he needs Perry to deliver some information and a message to MI6 involving high-ranking English politicians making cozy deals with Russian crime gangs. In return for that information, he wants protection and asylum in Britain.
Based on a novel by John le Carré and directed by Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns), Traitor could be a jolt of a joyride with Perry being the unenviable man in the middle not knowing whom to trust.
Instead, it limps from plot point to plot point with little suspense to a conclusion that offers few surprises.
The performances are solid, especially Skarsgard, Damien Lewis as the MI6 contact, and Khalid Abadalla as his assistant, but that’s not enough to make Our Kind of Traitor our kind of movie.
Our Kind of Traitor
☆☆ 1/2 (out of five)
Director: Susanna White
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damien Lewis, Naomie Harris
Rated: R (violence, strong language, nudity, sexuality, brief drug use)
Running time: 108 min.