Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Our Kind of Traitor

For a movie written by Hossein Amini (he also wrote everyone's favourite movie, Drive), based on a novel by spymaster John le Carré and with a cast of stars that should be impeccable, this thriller ends up being a laborious adventure in mediocrity. It probably has to do with the director Susanna White's first time attempt attempt at a thriller and the insanely distracting camera work.

Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his wife Gail (Naomie Harris) are having a holiday in Marrakech in order to reconnect after some specified bad blood between the two. One night, Perry meets Dima (Stellan Skårsgard), a Russian oligarch who soon reveals that he has previously worked for the Russian Mafia and has information he would like to exchange for he and his family's safety. Once back in London, Perry gets in contact with MI6 agent Hector (Damian Lewis), who deems the information Dima holds to be of value. However, he is unable to convince his superiors of the value and must embark on an unsanctioned mission with the help of Perry and Gail.

Despite being a relatively good story, there are a few points when the script gets sticky. Early on, there is a scene in which Dima meets with Hector for the first time and while it plays out like an amazing game of cat and mouse, it happens way too early in the story. This really affects some similar scenes that happen later on. The climax of the film also falls flat as well. It is something that you can see a mile away, but then when it happens, there's no real emotional response. I suppose one of the biggest distractions for me however, was Ewan McGregor's line readings. Whenever he said anything, it felt like he'd looked at the script for the first time and gone, "woah, I get to say that?"

But it's not as though the rest of the cast is this bad. Naomie Harris is a splendid performer and I really felt like she cared for the family they were trying to save. She didn't really have a chemistry with McGregor, but I'm guessing that's kind of the point. Stellan Skårsgard is always great at playing either the reserved quiet type or the over the top criminal. Here he straddles the middle ground quite nicely. It's good to see Damian Lewis returning to his natural accent because the American accent he does in the TV show Billions is quite grating. The only reason I bring that up is because this is how Susanna White must have got this job because she's a director on that show.

Finally, the camera work. I don't know where to begin. It's just so distracting. During the opening sequence, there was a highly stylised glittery thing going on that had me thinking, "Oh this is only for the intro, it'll settle down." But it didn't. The amount of reflective surfaces that they sparkled lights off was unbelievable. And then they decide to shoot it from some new and unusual angles. The result ended up being a disorienting mess. Some of the time, I didn't even know where we were supposed to be in the room.

The slowness of this movie made it nowhere near as enjoyable as it should have been. The story had all the intrigue that a spy movie should have, but it also just felt like a lighter version of 2014's A Most Wanted Man, also a le Carré adaptation. In fact the endings of both films are slightly similar, just this one feels a little more resolved. It just needed more excitement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget