Honour among thieves

This is my review of Our Kind Of Traitor [DVD] [2016].

Bored with his job as a lecturer in poetry and perhaps too easily led in his desire for a fresh challenge, Perry holidays in Marrakesh with his high-flying barrister wife Gail, in an attempt to repair their relationship which has been damaged for reasons revealed in due course.

Perry allows himself to fall for the persuasive charms of Dima, a larger-than-life Russian who proves, somewhat improbably, to be a financial wizard who has made himself wealthy yet vulnerable money-laundering for the Moscow mafia. Beneath his hearty exterior, Dima is running scared, aware that he is about to be liquidated, regarded as no longer required but knowing too much by his ruthless Russian boss. In desperation, Dima tries to use Perry to pass to M16 information which will gain him asylum in the UK along with his family. The drama becomes tense as it becomes clear that the only member of British intelligence seriously interested in working with Dima is the maverick Hector, obsessed with the desire to expose high-ranking UK politicians who are colluding with Russian criminals.

The John Le Carré novel from 2010 on which all this is based has proved quite prescient as regards the course events have taken in the post Cold War world. Hence the shots of a London skyline disfigured by excrescences of high-rise property development financed with ill-gotten Russian investment.

The film contains striking photography, excellent acting and some tense scenes with sharp dialogue. It combines nerve-racking drama with the raising of serious issues. Yet it ultimately falls short because in an attempt to spice up what sounds like a plausible book plot, the film script introduces too many unbelievable situations. I was left feeling somewhat irritated: if this film is meant to be taken seriously, it stretches credulity too far.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars

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