Based on John Le Carré’s 2010 novel of the same name, ‘Our Kind Of Traitor’ centres around a British holidaying couple who find themselves dragged into the world of the Russian Mafia and MI6.
With a well-documented record in writing stories that uncover the clandestine machinations of the British secret services, John Le Carré’s name carries real pedigree with it. From the first cinema adaptation of 1965’s ’The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ with Richard Burton to later films like Tomas Alfredson’s ’Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy’, his films have always promised detail and revelation.
... where buried resentments are usually found on the cusp of every erudite exchange.
However, where 2005’s absorbing ’The Constant Gardner’ which was all grit and grimace with the excellent Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, the same cannot be said of this latest cinematic adaptation. The story itself hangs together logically as you would expect it to but its performances, direction and script fail to catch fire. Ewan MacGregor and Naomie Harris struggle to convince as a couple going through difficult times, beset with leaden dialogue and Harris reduced to a female cypher who (despite her character’s announced profession) is never allowed to question or breathe accountability into this boys-all-being-serious tale. Saskia Reeves too, with limited screen time and even scanter dialogue is in danger of stealing the show with her stoic, almost mute turn as wife to Stellan Skarsgard’s Russian man-boy of a husband. It’s not until the arrival of Damian Lewis that the dialogue finally flickers into life with the wit and barbed sub-texts that you would normally associate with a John Le Carré thriller, where buried resentments are usually found on the cusp of every erudite exchange.
‘Our Kind Of Traitor’ has good intentions and knows where it wants to go. However Watching Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ it only serves to remind you of where it should have gone. With better dialogue, genuine intrigue and a master director guiding the story, Ewan MacGregor’s everyman performance as a lecturer in-over-his-head would have been much better served.