Review: Our Kind of Traitor

our-kind-of-traitor_1_blue-aw_final_hrStarring Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgard, Damien Lewis

Directed by Susanna White

StudioCanal, Out now

A lecturer and his wife become embroiled in a desperate attempt to prevent Russian Mafiya money being laundered through the City of London…

The latest John le Carré novel to make it to the big screen is an entertaining – if sometimes rather implausible – tale of two innocents caught up in a situation completely outside their control. McGregor’s lecturer Perry Makepiece and his wife Gail (Harris) are trying to patch up their marriage by taking a break, during which Perry encounters larger than life Russian Dima (Skarsgard), who takes a shine to him, and asks him to take something back to the UK with him. This turns out to be an offer to blow a laundering scheme wide open – but Dima insists that Perry and Gail are involved.

At times it feels almost like a deliberate inversion of The Man From UNCLE, or its roots – the classic Hitchcock movies – in the same way that Alec Leamas was the opposite to 007. UNCLE brought “innocents” in to the spy game because they had some talent that was needed to carry out the operation. Our Kind of Traitor involves them by sheer happenstance of them being there, and Perry and Gail end up helping far more than seems plausible. (Hossein Amini’s script takes things rather further than I recall being in the original.)

McGregor, Harris, Skarsgard and Lewis – as an intelligence officer who’s happy to use anyone to fulfil his bigger aim of bringing down someone he regards as a traitor within the government – all give strong performances, and director Susanna White provides a great sense of place for the wide-ranging locations. If you fancy an antidote to the non-stop action of Jason Bourne or want something that flows rather more logically than SPECTRE, this is well worth your time.

Verdict: An intriguing and entertaining spy tale. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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