Our Kind Of Traitor – movie review

Our Kind Of Traitor is a mediocre adaptation of a wonderful John LeCarre novel. It is about a high ranking Vory (Russian mob) member who has decided to reveal the details of how illegal money is being laundered through London banks. He is willing to risk his life to bring this crucial information to the authorities.

Ewin McGregor & Naomie Harris

Ewin McGregor & Naomie Harris

Ewin McGregor and Naomie Harris are a married British couple (Perry & Gail) who are  on holiday. They are befriended by the Russian mobster Dima (played by Stellan Skarsgard) and his large family. He comes to trust them and asks Perry to tell MI6 in London about his offer to exchange information in return for asylum  for his whole family.

Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgard in Our Kind of Triator

Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgard in Our Kind of Traitor

Perry and Gail are just ordinary people, but they realize that the lives of the entire family are at risk, so they agree to help.

Damian Lewis

Damian Lewis

Damian Lewis is the Mi6 agent Hector, who sets up an off the books plan for the family to get to London.

Our Kind Of Traitor has lots of good points and action scenes, but it just does not hold up to the book.  The issue is that it has been “dumbed  down” too much for the movie audience. Much of the complexity of the characters has been left out.

Alicia von Rittberg ( far right) as Natasha in Our Kind of Traitor

Alicia von Rittberg ( far right) as Natasha in Our Kind of Traitor

The biggest disappointment in Our Kind Of Traitor is the way the movie failed to properly use the talents if Alicia von Rittberg in her role as Natasha. In the book,  Natasha is a major character with a complex and moving subplot of her own. She and Gail become close friends and she tells Gail the secrets she dare not mention to her own parents.  That’s why we were looking forward so much to seeing  Alicia von Rittberg playing this role.

Alicia von Rittberg

Alicia von Rittberg

However, in the movie version, Alicia von Rittberg’s Natasha hardly has any lines at all, and no meaningful interaction with Gail.  When Natasha does finally reveal one secret the audience does not care, since we don’t know anything else about her as a character. It is disappointing that the director chose to just leave out a major part of the book, when Alicia von Rittberg was the perfect actress to play Natasha as John Le Carre had intended.

The talents of the great actor Damian Lewis were also not used to their full capacity. He was much better in the American T.V. show Homeland, in which we were never sure if he was a hero or a villein.  In the movie Our Kind of Traitor, the director chose to have him play the classic action hero we have seen in countless other films.

Despite being a British film Our Kind Of Traitor chose to insert a “Hollywood ending”  that was not in John Le Carre’s novel. Lovers of John Le Carre’s novels know that he always has the lines between good and evil, right and wrong to be very blurry.  Not a single John LeCarre novel was ever meant to have a Hollywood Ending.

 

 

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