Our Kind of Traitor

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Poster Image
Interesting relationships in violent John le Carré thriller.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is largely about helping others, but, in this story, that can lead to great danger. But kindness is rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a kind soul, albeit flawed, who sees the benefit in helping others rather than striving for personal gain.

Violence

Guns and shooting, stabbing, strangling, fighting (with kicking and punching). Main and/or secondary characters are killed. At a party, a violent, rough, man appears to be taking advantage of a scared, screaming woman (they're interrupted).

Sex

The main couple attempts sex but stops (naked breasts and bottom briefly shown). Brief full-frontal male nudity in a spa.

Language

Strong language includes multiple uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "prick," "s--t," "p---y," "c--t," "ass," "hell," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Background drinking in restaurants/clubs; a main character agrees to a risky proposition after a night of exotic drinks/partying. Background cocaine-snorting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Our Kind of Traitor is a thriller adapted from a 2010 John le Carré novel. Spy fans will find it mildly entertaining, though not especially suspenseful. Expect some strong violence, including guns, shooting, and killing; fighting and punching; and blood. There's also a rape scene in which it appears that a man is having rough sex with a woman against her will (it's interrupted). A married couple starts to have sex but stops; her naked breasts and bottom are briefly shown. There's also full-frontal male nudity in a spa situation. Language is strong, with uses of "f--k" and "motherf----r." Drinking is shown at restaurants/parties/clubs (a key character agrees to a risky proposition after a night of exotic drinks), and there's an image of cocaine use.

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What's the story?

An English couple -- teacher Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his more highly-paid lawyer wife Gail (Naomie Harris) -- is trying to repair their struggling marriage while vacationing in Marrakech. There Perry 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 wants to become an informant, providing information for the British government in exchange for safety for himself 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.

Is it any good?

Directed by BBC veteran Susanna White, this latest adaptation of John le Carré's work has a welcome soft touch, focusing on interesting relationships, but that also cushions any suspenseful edges. The high points in Our Kind of Traitor are the struggling marriage between McGregor and Harris' characters, as well as the budding, offbeat, and slightly dangerous friendship between Perry and Dima -- 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. Sultry parties, crowded lobbies, trains, and chilly remote cabins all take on personalties of their own. Moreover, Damian Lewis gives a strong personality to what might otherwise 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 and really rev up the thrills. It's loose, when a good thriller ought to feel tight.

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