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Our Kind Of Traitor review: “Keeps the heart pounding.”

Our Kind Of Traitor review: Relegated from an overcrowded 2015 in terms of spy films, can the latest Le Carre match his previous work?

Our Kind Of Traitor 1Reports suggest that Our Kind Of Traitor was being test-screened back as early as 2014. Based on a novel by John Le Carre and featuring an excellent cast, such a delay would suggest a tricky or sub-par film just waiting to be dumped somewhere. Then we remember that 2015 was overloaded with spy films, completely saturating the market. We had Spectre, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Kingsmen, Spy, Bridge Of Spies, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. So, it’s probably in Our Kind Of Traitr’s best interest to give itself a little more breathing space, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t have held its own.

The unsubtly named Perry Makepeace (Ewan McGregor) is on a reconciliation holiday with his lawyer wife Gail Perkins (Naomie Harris). While dining one night Perry makes friends with Russian DIma (Stellan Skarsgard), who just so happens to be the Russian mafia’s number one money launderer. Dima asks Perry to take a USB drive with him back to England and inform MI6. The agent who picks up the case is Hector (Damian Lewis), but as Hector’s personal feelings get in the way, we start to question the motives of all characters as Dima asks for the safety of his wife and children.

Our Kind Of Traitor review

Our Kind Of Traitor review

Our Kind Of Traitor takes the everyman thrown into an extraordinary situation and runs with it in a believable and exciting way. Perry may not be the likeliest of heroes, but McGregor instills him with enough bravado, as well as humbleness to make him a character to root for. Teamed with Harris, we get a strong pair who tackle each other’s weaknesses well. Skarsgard and Lewis create two shady characters, with each actor keeping up clouds of suspicion around them. Their slightly off accents help to bridge a divide between them and the protagonists, with Skarsgard going rough but friendly, while Lewis has a slithery high pitched tone.

With the acting on point and enough good character work, it’s surprising that the film moves at such a blistering pace. It does feel as though the film has been cut down to a slim and impactful 90 minutes, with not much focus on an infidelity subplot between Perry and Gail. But that just makes for a more gripping watch. Director Susanna White gives us scene after scene of intense moments that bubble to the brim with uncomfortable situations. It truly feels as though characters are in danger and it’s something we don’t want to see.

Our Kind Of Traitor review

Our Kind Of Traitor review

This may not hit any new ground, nor is it as striking and complex as some of Le Carre’s adaptations, but it gives us a thrilling tale of doing the right thing no matter what the threats. With great performances, relatable characters, and emotional connections built between all involved, this becomes less about the mission and more about the people. It may be all a bit too fast to truly settle down and get involved, but it also keeps the heart pounding.

Our Kind Of Traitor review by Luke Ryan Baldock, April 2016.

Our Kind Of Traitor is released on 13th May.

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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