Stream 'Our Kind of Traitor' an entertaining spy film - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Stream ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ an entertaining spy film

It’s an espionage film, via the remarkable wordsmith, John Le Carre. “Our Kind of Traitor” opened in July 2016, and was directed by Susanna White. It continues to get some good buzz online, so I decided to check it out on Amazon Prime.

I love the spy genre. And, this film, shot with stunning backdrops depicting Russia, Morocco, Switzerland, France, and England, has a lot of positive aspects to it.

“Our Kind of Traitor” is solid entertainment, but not by any stretch in the top entertainment category. It is more than just an okay flick, however. In particular, It has some fine acting, especially from Ewan McGregor (as Perry, a university poetry professor); and, Naomie Harris, (as his girlfriend, Gail, a barrister.)

Perry is the good, innocent guy in this movie, who inadvertently opens up a can of worms by getting too close to the wrong crowd. Harris is just along for the ride, with not a lot to do.

Yes, you’re right if you were thinking that Harris is that same gal that played a “hottie” (Moneypenny), in that James Bond movie – “Spectre.” As for McGregor, a fine Scottish actor, he’s been on a roll as a rising international movie star, since taking on the lead in Roman Polanski’s award-winning flick, “The Ghost Writer.”

The movie’s storyline for “Our Kind of Traitor,” I must say, is seriously flawed. I didn’t read the book, so I don’t know if the adaptation is off or if I should blame it on the screenplay.

The crux of the problem is that the film is set up to have you concerned mostly about the fate of a Russian Mafia gangster, “Dima,” played brilliantly by Stellan Skarsgard. He fears for his life, and for the well being of his young family.

Dina is desperate for a way to make a deal with MI6, British Intelligence, in order to gain sanctuary in England for himself and his brood. But, who really gives a good damn what happens to an operative for the Mob? Dina is a likable fellow, but still, he’s a bloody gangster, who favors the “f” word. This is the rub in my opinion.

Dima’s Mafia boss, an Oligarch, k/a “The Prince,” (Grigorily Dobrygin), is planning to knock him off, just as he had whacked Dima’s predecessor, who had also acted as his banker. Trust me, the scene where that slaughter takes place, on a lonely, icy Russian road, will make you – cringe.

Ruthless doesn’t begin to describe “The Prince” and his crime family. They are not only amoral killers but they treat their women like disposable chattel. They make our Mafia, with a tip of the hat to the late John Gotti, look like altar boys in comparison.

Background: Since the fall of Communism in Mother Russia, a new class of predators has emerged there – often referred to as the “Oligarchs.” Some of them have been systematically looting the country – stealing billions of dollars of assets and natural resources. A few have been caught and prosecuted – most haven’t.

Some of the anti-Vladimir Putin propaganda that you witness in the Establishment Media in the U.S. can be attributed to the fact that he, and his government, have taken a hard line against this clique of vultures. The vultures, (read Oligarchs), however, know how to play the game and they play hard.

Getting back to the movie. Perry and Gail, Londoners, are on a holiday in Morocco. Perry ends up partying with Dima, where Dima asks him to act as a courier for him. He wants Perry to pass off a memory stick to MI6 when he returns home. Unbeknown to Perry, it contains loads of inside information exposing high-level British banking/corporate officials, including politicos in crooked deals and payoffs with the Russian Mob.

Perry makes it to London, meets with the MI6 honcho (Hector), played capably by Damian Lewis, and gives him the memory stick. This end of the tale gets complicated fast since Hector’s boss doesn’t think Dima is such a good catch for the agency.

Also, there’s a backstabbing wire puller in the House of Lords, who is close to this evolving scheme, and the power-shakers in MI6. He despises Hector. Think “House of Cards!”

There are some interesting scene shifts from Morocco to London; then on to Paris; with a stopover in Bern, Switzerland; and later on to the French Alps. As for tension/suspense, there’s plenty, but not nearly enough to keep you hanging on the edge.

“Our Kind of Traitor” will entertain you, but it’s not in the forever-memorable thriller category. “Rotten Tomatoes” gave it a “72 percent” rating. I’m giving it three out of five stars.

About the author

Bill Hughes

Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: Contact the author.

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