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“Traitor” is this year’s “Departed”

September 2nd, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 5,838 Views


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Traitor (2008) posterI did not have high expectations for this movie, but I knew that given right material and direction, Don Cheadle can perform miracles on screen. His roles in “Hotel Rwanda” and “Crash” won him Best Actor nominations. This time he also showed himself as very talented producer. Guess who else produced this movie? Steve Martin! He and director Jeffrey Nachmanoff suggested the story to Don Cheadle.

The plot: FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) is heading investigation of possible terrorist plots in United States. All leads are pointing at a former US Special Operations officer Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) who was born in Yemen, had experience with explosives in Afghanistan and popped in the intelligence report when he escaped from Yemeni prison together with other terrorist suspects and later participated in bombing of U.S. Embassy in Nice and another plot in London. But Clayton and his partner Max Archer (Neal McDonough) soon find contradictory evidence that makes them believe that Samir is a part of a bigger scheme. Clayton and Archer follow Samir’s trail across the globe. Eventually the intelligence points to a plot to blow up 50 buses all over U.S. at the same time.

The good: This is a very intelligent, thoughtful and thought-provoking movie. Great story and even better story telling. This is the movie that everyone must see for its story and explanation of motivation and operation of terrorists – and a fine line between terrorists and freedom fighters. It also shows how, when taken too far, the “war on terror” becomes not much different from Jihad. Hopefully this movie will also promote understanding of Islam and Islamic laws in United States. The movie shows that there are more good Muslims in the world then there are bad ones as well as more good Christians then bad Christians, but in either case there are forces who would exploit religiousness of people for their own goals. To quote from “Charlie Wilson’s War“, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.

Don Cheadle is amazing as devout Muslim and a bomb maker. He has proven himself as a fantastic dramatic actor in Traitor, Crash and Hotel Rwanda, and as a great actor in comedy (Ocean’s 11-12-13). He also produced this movie, and in my book he is one of America’s top talent. A scene where Samir is crying over innocent people he killed is one of the most genuine and strong acting by Cheadle. His role is mostly dramatic, but he also gets to do some action sequences, and we know he can be good in those – Rush Hour 2 is an example.

Great cast. Guy Pearce (The Proposition (2005), Memento (2000)) is very effective, although his character is not unique in any way. Neal McDonough was great as FBI agent Max Archer and an asshole with gravitas. Jeff Daniels was also cast as agent Carter, but he didn’t really have a chance to show his talent because his role is very episodic. Good, but too technical performance by Saïd Taghmaoui (Three Kings, Hidalgo, O Jerusalem, The Kite Runner, Vantage Point).

A lot of thrill in suspense in this movie – what you come to expect from any double-agent movie, where the climax moment comes when both sides think the hero has betrayed them. Couldn’t help but think it’s similar to The Departed in this respect (but without DiCaprio, Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson).

The last scene in the movie is symbolic: a handshake, and a initiation of the dialog between two opposite worlds.

Nice musical score by Mark Kilian.

The bad: The twist in the end was predictable. The resolution of the climax was not too plausible. Archie Panjabi’s character was not explained enough, probably due to excessive cutting of the movie to make it acceptable for PG-13 audience.

The summary: One of the best spy/action/suspense movies. Don Cheadle is great. Very enjoyable and thoughtful film.

The cast: Samir Horn - Don Cheadle | Roy Clayton - Guy Pearce | Omar – Saïd Taghmaoui | Max Archer – Neal McDonough | Fareed – Aly Khan | Chandra Dawkin – Archie Panjabi | Carter – Jeff Daniels

The crew: Director – Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow) | Writers – Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Steve Martin | Producers – Ashok Amritraj (Original Sin, Bandits, Shopgirl, Raisin Helen etc.), Don Cheadle, Arlene Gibbs, David Hoberman, Kay Liberman, Todd Lieberman, Steve Martin, Chris McGurk, Jeffrey Silver, Danny Rosett | Music – Mark Kilian | Cinematography – J. Michael Muro (The Fast and The Furious, Swordfish, Rush Hour 2, Crash, The Chronicles of Riddick, Miami Vice, X-Men) | Overture Films

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Rated 5/5 on Sep 2 2008
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Tags: Drama · Movies · Thrillers/Suspense · USA

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