Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Traitor Movie Poster Image
Uneven political thriller mixes faith, terrorism.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

An American man deals arms to his country's enemies and later appears to have joined a group whose mission is to hurt the United States. A trail of bloodshed metaphorically follows most scenes, though as viewers get to know the main players in the story, it's clear that their beliefs are being tested somewhat. There are glimpses of friends taking care of each other, even in prison.


An embassy bombing kills a handful of people (a man is shown planting the bomb); blasts of gunfire sometimes result in bloodshed. Lots of discussion about ways to sabotage the stability of the American people. Beat downs in a prison yard; a man is thrown off an overpass; and more.


The lead character has a girlfriend, though they aren't seen in any embraces or clinches; mild joke about virgins.


A few uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t" and "damn." Not prevalent overall.


Nothing too glaring --- just logos for subway stations, GMC SUVs, and a few other products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some smoking and drinking in social situations.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this adult thriller revolves around lofty ideas and mature themes (including faith and terrorism) that may not interest kids, or even teens. The violence -- of which there's a fair amount, including an embassy bombing and gunfire that leads to bloodshed -- and discussions about terrorism might be upsetting to younger viewers. There's also some swearing, smoking, and drinking. All of that said, the main character seems like a man who struggles as much as he can to be true to his faith, and watching him navigate this quagmire is actually quite thought-provoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byvader123 January 24, 2009

amazing movie

this was a great movie but their is a lot of bad things there is a scene where they chase a 17 year old boy shove him down stairs and grab him and throw him in... Continue reading
Adult Written by4Spice January 10, 2010


good movie wort buying lots of action
Teen, 14 years old Written byOldBob13 March 13, 2010

A fine political thriller

I thought Tratior was a complex and dramatic look at others minds and religions. It's mainly clean for a PG-13, except for some coarse language and intense... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybballstar January 1, 2010

def. a go for 13 and up and a def. go for mature 11 and up.

Great movie very good. It keeps you at the edge of your seat. Some scary parts and throughout the whole movie there are explosions (terrorist bombings) and de... Continue reading

What's the story?

Does a pious man have a place in the war against terror? That's the essential question behind the tense drama TRAITOR. Don Cheadle stars as Samir Horn, a devout Muslim-American with a military past who finagles his way into the inner sanctum of a European terrorist cell. Thrown in a Yemeni prison for an arms deal gone awry, Horn befriends a prisoner who not only helps him escape but proceeds to recruit him for a dangerous, destructive mission. But Horn isn't what he seems. Not even an FBI agent (Guy Pearce) in hot pursuit knows who he really is -- or just how or why he came to be in the enemy's inner circle in the first place.

Is it any good?

Taut and intriguing -- for the most part, anyway -- Traitor succeeds on a basic level thanks to Cheadle's acting prowess. Rather than playing Horn as a typical action-hero prototype, he creates a character so complicated and conflicted that the movie nearly transcends its flaws. Nearly. But it does have flaws. For starters, it skates over too many details -- how Horn metamorphosed from government soldier to arms trader, how his tangled web got its start. And while it certainly attempts to present a more full-bodied representation of extremists and extremism, the movie relies a little too much on shorthand, even though it willingly takes on a complex subject.

If not for the great acting ensemble, the enterprise would come across as paint-by-numbers. As it is, for a thriller, it feels slack and predictable in places -- as in Horn's encounters with a prison bully and how his response buys him the respect of others, for example. And, at times, it's self-consciously ponderous. But there's no denying the film's timeliness and its laudable efforts at injecting humanity into a hot-button debate. Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who also co-wrote the script, doesn't just rely on dogma and polemics, and for that he deserves some kudos.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie deals with both faith and terrorism. Can the two co-exist? What messages does the movie send about that relationship? Families can also discuss Samir's decision to join a group whose activities might run counter to his religious beliefs. Why does he take it on? How is he affected by the experience? Is this movie different from other political thrillers? If so, how?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate