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Monday, September 15, 2008

Review: TRAITOR


Eh.

There's some spoilers here. Not major ones. You'll deal.

If this movie is about breaking down racial barriers, and presenting the idea that not all Muslims are terrorists, it pretty much fails. If anything, I feel like I am likely to start racially profiling more after seeing this movie.

Don Cheadle pays Samir Horn, a man born in Sudan, and trained in the United States as a Special Op. He has an American accent.

Also, is Muslim.

He spends his life as a terrorist helper, making bombs, delivering bombs, and overseeing flashy Islamic terrorist attacks. Right away, we get a sort of sympathetic feel from him, and it makes you wonder why our protagonist is a terrorist.

After escaping from a prison in Yemen, he decides to help his newfound friend Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui) in a complicated, but professional nation-wide terrorist attack. We spend half the movie watching him help Omar to recruit young kids from around the world to help in this impending attack. We get to see the terrorist point of view - Americans have spilled innocent Muslim blood for centuries, and now it is time to take back their honor. Attack and kill as many Americans as possible.

I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable for most of this movie. Really? Our protagonist is a terrorist? Just a guy who follows Allah and helps to kill Americans. For an American, it is odd to watch.

And all the while we have Detective Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) on the case, looking to stop Samir. Pearce is a personal favorite actor of mine, and I naturally thought he did a great job. His accent was spot on.

So here's the problem: we have no antagonist. The film sets it up so that we want to hate Clayton. But how can we really? He's an FBI agent, a good one, a guy that wants to stop innocent people from dying. Sure, his assistant Archer (Neal McDonough) is a douche, but that is not enough for us to label Clayton as the bad guy.

Then I began to think it must be Samir that is the "bad guy". After all, he is setting off bombs and killing people all around the world.

And then he became the good guy! That's right, we find out about half way through that he is not in fact working for the terrorists, but he is in on something secret with FBI agent Carter (Jeff Daniels). Samir Horn is a not a traitor of the US, but a traitor towards the terrorists.

So now we have Clayton hunting an innocent guy, and he has no idea.

This movie takes you through too many loops. You have no one to hate, and no one to root for. You never find out Samir's plan until the end, so you feel like you are just waiting on something to go off, kind of like a bomb.

It seems like they wanted to make a "Bourne" style movie, but about terrorists. The movie is shot like it, Samir fights like it, and the music is a straight up knock-off.

It has decent action and decent performances, but it leaves you with nothing. You don't have to see it. If you want to, rent it. Don't waste your ten bucks.
3 stars

11 comments:

Ezra Edmond said...

How is Don's performance? I've been a big fan of his for a while.

Wilder Shaw said...

He's good. I love him too, but this is not his best performance. He has mastered playing a character with an inner struggle, but he doesn't have much to work with on this one.

Mark Donica said...

I hate it when they give good actors crap of a script to do, it makes you not like him as much.

I hope for Cheadles sake he gets a great move next-a time-a

Ezra Edmond said...

yeah, seriously. Something like Crash, Talk to Me, or Hotel Rwanda. Crummy scripts are such a waste of film space.

Mark Donica said...

Yeah dude, that's one of the problems with the industry today, so many crap scripts are getting approved because people think certain names can carry it. Also, they let Nick Cage keep making movies.

Craig Nelson said...

i liked it...

that is if they kept the ending. i saw it at one of those preview screenings.

Ezra Edmond said...

If the movie ever comes my way, I'll give it a chance. Seems like it could be a fun action thriller kind of like Denzell Washington movies. Where's he been lately?

Yeah... Nick Cage needs to stop making action films... cause he really isn't that action-y.

Bangkok Dangerous got only a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Hopefully the producers will take that as a message.

Mark Donica said...

Also sad to see Jeff Daniels tied to something like this, he's damn good too.

Wilder Shaw said...

Look, this movie was not a piece of crap, it just was not amazing.

Jeff Daniels is actually very good. You feel for him.

Mark Donica said...

EXCELLENT THEN!

Anonymous said...

Please work on your writing skills. Figure out what a complete sentence is. Then formulate an actual paragraph. When you can write, start reading real reviews so that you know what the hell you're supposed to do. You need more than a voice and a basic understanding of film concepts to be doing this.

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