Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
TRAITOR MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Running time: 110 minutes
Release date: August 27, 2008
Distributor: Overture Films
MPAA Rating: R
Traitor is an excellent contemporary espionage drama. The story about bombings and terrorism could be ripped from the front pages of newspapers worldwide. Overall , the film has a solid impact via its focus on human values and CGI. Additionally, the film's total absence of "spy gimmickry" is appreciated. The screenplay of Traitor is written by Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Nachmanoff, who is also the screenwriter of The Day After Tomorrow, can boast about his strong scripting and directing.
This film deals effectively with the CIA and the FBI living in a world of their own, apart from the day-to-day existence of the millions of people they are serving. In the story, they are tripping over each other's feet in the Middle East.
With the fine direction by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and the superb performances by Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce, the cinematic quality of this film is magnetic. The plot of this film focuses on an elite FBI agent, Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce), who heads up a unit assigned to investigate a dangerous international conspiracy. All of the clues point to a former U.S. Ops Officer Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) who was trained by the CIA. Horn is a mysterius figure, a devout Muslim and a mole planted by the U.S. in a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, an inter-agency task force is formed that implores Horn's contact, veteran CIA agent Carter (Jeff Daniels), to look into the bombings in London, Yemen and Nice where Horn is seen and has disappeared. The spy film genre often involves innocent people being caught up in international conspiracies, and this is definitely the case in this narrative.
In a sense, this movie reminds me of the popularity peak of the spy film era (which is often considered to be the 1960's) when Cold War fears meshed with a desire by audiences to see exciting and suspenseful films. During that time, the espionage film developed in two directions. On one side, the realistic spy movies were serious thrillers which included some of the realities of the espionage world- for example, The Spy Who Came Out Of The Cold (1965). On the other side of the espionage film, would be unrealistic satirical films such as Our Man Flint (1966).
As a Muslim, Horn believes The Holy Qur'an/Koran to be a book of devine guidance and direction for mankind. The Qur'an itself expresses guidance; therefore, it rarely offers detailed accounts of historical events. The text instead typically places enphasis on the moral significance of an event rather than its narrative sequence. The Qur'an does not describe natural facts in a scientific manner, but instead teaches that natural and supernatural events are signs of God. It does not matter if a Muslim is Sunni or Shia, he or she uses the same Qur'an. In this case, Don Cheadle's performance takes on the character of a true Islamic worshipper, who believes in the importance of love and peace.
Don Cheadle's character Samir Horn was a complicated role to play, and is one of Don Cheadle's best roles. He prepared for the part by learning to speak Arabic with the help of dialect coaches and language professors who helped define the proper way to talk. His character's purpose in life is to stop the terrorists from wreaking havoc in the name of Allah. However, Horn finds himself used as a pawn in high level counter-plotting. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Guy Pearce's character, Clayton, relentlessly tracks Horn across the globe to unfold the secrets.
The two actors (Cheadle and Pearce) enhance each other's character development. Their fine peformances strengthen the overall production values and make it very easy for the audience to get sucked into the storyline. The ensemble cast of Neal McDonough, Said Taghmaoui, Mozhan Marno, Archie Panjabi and Aly Khan also give excellent performances.
My main complaint with Traitor is that the film would have been better if not for the Hollywood finale of everything being tied in a nice bow.
FILM RATING (B+)