Archive for May 6th, 2010

I had never heard of Traitor until I saw the trailer on The Killing Room Despite positive reviews the film only had a very limited cinema release both here and in America, this could explain how it passed me by.

The plot has two strands: Former US Special Forces explosives expert Samir (Don Cheadle) gets involved with a group of Islamic extremist terrorists.  The other strand follows the FBI as by two agents (Guy Pearce & Neal McDonough) trying to track down the terrorists, Samir quickly becomes the main focus of their investigation.  The greatest criticism of the movie is that it lacks originality and you always know where the plot is going, the greatest praise is that despite this it never becomes dull or boring.

The film was originally going to be made by Touchstone Pictures (part of Disney) but was dropped before being picked up by Don Cheadle (one of the movies producers) and Overture Films.  Overture Films have an interesting philosophy; to produce up to about eight independent films a year for under the $30 million each and market them to a mainstream audience.  They don’t follow any particular pattern or genre but try to identify niches in the market.  The films they have made so far are varied and include: Sunshine Cleaning, Paper Heart, Pandorum, Law Abiding Citizen and Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. Traitor fits well into the model with an estimated budget of $22 million.

Although the main “War On Terror” theme is modern and contemporary the story is more old-fashioned and reminiscent of world war II and cold war thrillers. It handles the difficult subject matter with sensitivity and tact making the story is pretty solid and mostly believable without spoiling the entertainment. There are some aspects of the plot that are a little week or contrived and the actors have to chew their way through some questionable dialogue but on the whole it works. It manages to find a good balance between plot building and action set-pieces, something last years The International failed to do. The screenplay was written by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (who also directed the movie) based on an original story by himself and Steve Martin (yes, comedian Steve Martin if you are wondering).

The acting is really good with Cheadle being given top billing; he gives a solid performance in the films most challenging role.  Guy Pearce gives a great subtle understated performance that holds the film together begging the question why he has never made the A list that his performances in L.A. Confidential and Memento seemed to be propelling him to? Jeff Daniels also crops up in a small but significant role.

A far from perfect movie but it is well written, well acted and with a compelling story that really deserved a wider audience.

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