Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Traitor (2008)

I didn't buy this DVD myself, but it drifted into my collection via people moving interstate and culling their own belongings.  I'll be getting to films like World War Z and Elysium for much the same reason one day, though I "inherited" those much more recently.

So this is pretty much your standard post-9/11 espionage thriller.  Islamic terrorists planning a huge, coordinated operation to strike at the US; FBI guys trying to stop them.  Forty years ago it would have been Soviet agents.  Twenty years ago ... well actually that was after the first Iraq War so Hollywood had already started switching over to hating on Muslims by then.

Central to both the terrorists' plans and to the FBI's ongoing investigation is Samir Horn (Don Cheadle).  Horn is a former US Special Forces operative, and an expert in explosives, and a devout Muslim.  It appears he's become radicalised and is working with the terrorists on this new attack.

Now if you're an astute reader you'll have noticed the word 'appears' in that sentence.  Or you'll have said to yourself, "There's no way they're casting Don Cheadle as an actual terrorist".  And indeed they haven't.  The movie plays it pretty coy with this, only revealing that Horn is a government agent around the halfway point, but well before that he is too obviously the protagonist of the film for him to be anything else.

So how's the movie overall?  Well, the means by which Horn is infiltrated into the terrorist organisation are frankly pretty far-fetched.  I recommend not thinking about them too closely while you're watching the movie.  Cheadle's performance is strong enough that this is actually pretty easy to do for most of the run-time.  Not even he can salvage the ending, though - the means by which the grand terrorist plan is thwarted (it's surely no spoiler to tell you the terrorists lose?) is patently absurd.

Goofy ending aside, this is a well-acted espionage thriller.  If that's your sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy it.

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