Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to talk about the big releases in theatres, including “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård as the Lord of the Jungle and Margot Robbie as Jane, Steven Spielberg’s latest, “The BFG” and the John le Carré thriller “Our Kind of Traitor,” starring Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Damian Lewis.
By default “Our Kind of Traitor” will probably be listed under the “thriller” section on Netflix and elsewhere simply because it was written by spymaster John le Carré but don’t be fooled. Labelling this Ewan McGregor film a thriller simply because of le Carré’s involvement is like calling “One Hour Photo” because Robin Williams took the lead.
McGregor and Naomie Harris are Perry Makepeace and Gail Perkins, an English couple on romantic holiday in Marrakesh. When she leaves him alone in a restaurant Perry meets flamboyant Russian oligarch Dima (Stellan Skarsgård) who takes the uptight poetry professor to a wild party resembling something out of a Fellini film. Inside a large mansion half naked women ride horseback and there’s enough drugs and booze to make Keith Richard do a double take. It’s a wild night that goes on until the sun rises, followed by a tennis match at Dima’s expansive villa.
Perry and Gail meet Dima’s family and nothing seems too odd until later that night at a cocktail party when the Russian asks Perry to smuggle a flash drive filled with very sensitive banking information to London. Turns out Dima is a money launderer whose usefulness to the mob has come to an end. He fears they may kill him and his family and his way out is to get the flash drive to the MI6 in return for safe passage to England.
Sounds like a plan until MI6 agent Hector (Damian Lewis) is less than entirely enthusiastic about the whole situation. Thus begins the intrigue, what little there is of it here, with Perry channelling his inner James Bond to become a Citizen Spy.
From buttoned down poetry professor to le Carré hero in a matter of days. It’s a leap, a gaping chasm even, which requires a well-oiled suspension of disbelief. The main problem is that the movie doesn’t offer up many clues as to why this couple would risk everything to come to the aid of a man they barely know. It’s a well-worn cinematic staple, the everyman as hero, but here it falls flat.
“I’ve BLEEPED up your life Professor,” says Dima. “Why are you still here?”
This would have been a good time for screenwriter Hossein Amini to offer up some kind of rational explanation as to why Perry has laid it all on the line. Instead we get this: “I’ve no idea.”
The rest of “Our Kind of Traitor” is about as riveting as that answer. Skarsgård’s boisterous performance is worth a look and Lewis is multi-layered enough to carry the whole thing but they are inexplicably pushed to the background behind the bland leads.