Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Mark Stanley, Alicia von Rittberg, Mark Gatiss, Saskia Reeves, Alec Utgoff, Pawel Szajda, Grigoriy Dobrygin
Written by: Hossein Amini, based on the novel byJohn le Carré
Directed by: Susanna White
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 108
Date: 07/01/2016

Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

White Knuckled

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by BBC veteran Susanna White ("Bleak House," "Jane Eyre," etc.), this latest adaptation of the work of John le Carré has a welcome soft touch, focusing on interesting relationships, but it also cushions any suspenseful edges.

An English couple, teacher Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his more highly-paid lawyer wife Gail (Naomie Harris), are trying to repair a struggling marriage while vacationing in Marrakesh. He meets the boisterous Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who works as a money launderer for the Russian mafia.

Dima believes that his employers are seeking to terminate their relationship with him, and he wishes to turn informer, providing information for the British government in exchange for safety for Dima and his family. Since Dima can trust no one, he needs Perry to carry a memory stick back to England, and after a night of exotic drinks and parties, Perry agrees. But little does he know that when he delivers the info, his job is far from over.

The high points in Our Kind of Traitor are the struggling marriage between Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris's characters, as well as the budding, offbeat, and slightly dangerous friendship between McGregor and Skarsgard; yet the movie slightly drops the ball when it eventually eases the danger between the two men.

White uses the film's many international locations to vivid effect. Steamy parties, crowded lobbies, trains, and chilly remote cabins all take on personalties of their own. Moreover, Damian Lewis provides a strong personality to what might have been a throwaway side character, an MI6 agent named Hector. But for all this engaging material, the plot can't seem to get into high gear, can't seem to rev up the thrills. It's loose, when a good thriller ought to feel tight.

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