July 9, 2016

‘Our Kind of Traitor’ … on which side?

One of the characters says early in this film that patience is required. That may have also been intended for the audience.

This is a 2010 thriller by British novelist John le Carre that finally made it to the big screen. The film is slow but filled with what you might expect from the Russian mafia, corrupt leaders, principled security agents and idealistic citizens. Some have compared this film to the “Bourne” films. It is a good story, keeps the audience interested, but it’s not an “edge of your seat” kind of movie.

Ewan MacGregor plays a university professor (aptly named Perry Makepeace) whose field is poetry. Stellan Skarsgard is the Russian with a photographic memory for things like, oh, say, bank account numbers. They strike up an unlikely friendship that tests MacGregor’s “honorable man” title to unparalleled limits. Naomie Harris stars as Gail Perkins, Perry’s lawyer spouse who has lots of common sense in contrast Perry’s spontaneous “honorable at all cost” character.  

There are a lot of ethical challenges in ‘Traitor’ that include many choices between good and evil. There’s even a conversation between the professor and the money laundering Russian mafia guy. He quotes a Polish philosopher who posits that evil was not created by God but exists on its own. No argument there.

The film contains enough greed, avarice, lust, and addiction story to fill, well, the pages of a novel. A lot of conversations among the characters about what’s motivating them to do good; to stand up to evil; to do the right and honorable thing.  

If you have ever wondered what you might do when faced with a real choice between good or evil this film will ring bells for you. Seemingly easy answers don’t really come very easily. One thing for sure in this film, Perry definitely has a handle on, “love your neighbor as yourself.”

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