Sunday, August 31, 2008

Traitor...

I hate making choices. So, I walk into my local mall to check out a flick. It's a nice day out, but all of my friends were busy, and I was bored, so a movie is always a good bet. I walk up, and see that three films of interest for me are playing within about 30 minutes of each other. I had the "Napolean Dynamite-esque" comedy starring my boy Steve Coogan, Hamlet 2, Death Race with Statham, or the Don Cheadle flick Traitor. So, I think for a second, and decided that I could have the most fun, or at least be the most suprised by Traitor, so that's what I picked. However, did the film live up to my choice?

Traitor is the story of Samir Horn (Cheadle), who is an ex Special Forces opperative, turned alleged terrorist, and an investigation on him, led by FBI Agent, Roy Clark (the amazing Guy Pearce). The heat is brought on Samir when an alleged sale of explosives to a terrorist group in Burma goes wrong and is busted by the said FBI Agent and a group of local police. Once Samir is arrested, he is sent to Yemen, where he meets a man by the name of Omar, and is involved in a big jail break. Omar brings Samir deep into a world of Jihad and terrorist activities. However, things are not as they seem, across the board, as this film is full of twist after twist, and full of globe trotting intrigue.

The best thing about this film is in the two lead performances. Cheadle plays Samir, a man who, at an early age, saw the effect of terrorism and war when his father was brutally murded in a horrible car bombing, which is actually the opening of this really interesting film. Cheadle plays this character really well, as is to be expected, and brings a level of conflict within the character that could have easily been lost in this semi action film, more on that part in a minute. Guy Pearce also is really great here. He is a former Religion major in college, who fell in love with the Arabic culture, and while he may not agree with what the Jihadist are doing, he does have a great respect for the culture, and the religion as a whole. This film is full of politics and is much more overtly political than it's closest relative, the Bourne films. However, the two are far different. Traitor is a much slower film, still up tempo, just not as high action, and there is a lot less of a docudrama feel. The shaky camera that Paul Greengrass loves is not seen here, in place is a steady cam with a big emphasis on the politics and inner struggle between Samir and his demons. The twists in this film are great, and the main attack that the film is built around is a truly terrifying one to think about. Also, the films was really well shot. It's the first wide release film from director Jeffrey Nachmanoff, and him and his DP, J. Michael Muro, best known for the Oscar winning film Crash, have some really stunning visuals in this film. Some of the colors just pop off the screen, and in a few shots, the whites are so blown out, and the explosions really rip across the screen. Also, during some of the film, the film gets a little grainy and washed out, and it's a great change of pace from the much more polished, blueish tones that the scenes involving Pearce's character showcase. Finally, the ending of the film, particularly the last line of dialouge from Cheadle, really wraps the film up perfectly. All of that said, the film is definitley flawed.

First off, the script is really shlocky. It comes to us from none other than funny man Steve Martin, yes, Wild and Crazy Guy, Steve Martin, and is not really well done. It's not horrible, but in a film that is so tense, some of the dialouge was just really heavy handed and there were moments where the script said to much. Sure, it's a heavily political film, but when silence would have been perfect, they had the characters say something that just slowed the film down. I can only compare it to the part in In the Valley of Elah, when Tommy Lee Jones tells a child the story of David and Goliath to stop him from being scared of the dark, and then he and Charlize Theron discuss what happened for about a half a minute. There were just moments that could have been cut, not many, but a few. Also, the second act did tend to lag a little bit. However, the ending is so great, and the last line of dialouge says so much about Cheadles character and the film as a whole, that these flaws didn't hinder my experience all that much. Cheadle and Pierce are really amazing, the supporting cast was well cast, the film was really interesting to look at, and the script didn't take to much away, so if you have some time, give this a shot.

Traitor - 7.5/10...

It's no Bourne film, but it has ambitions greater than that, but it just falls a little short on those said ambitions...It's a nice little thriller...

Alright, so that's all I've got for right now. I'll hopefully have a DVD review in a few days, a top 10 (what should it be?), and some news and notes.

Go see something good!!

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