With a narrowed selection of movies being released lately, there are still movies like Traitor or Bangkok Dangerous, among others, that have slid by unnoticed and virtually unadvertised. This week, I am reviewing Traitor starring Don Cheadle (Crash) and Guy Pearce (Memento). Traitor is a complex movie dealing with political issues of religion, mainly Islam, and foreign policy but also deals with internal struggles of coping with both of these and doing what is right, all while playing a game of cat and mouse. Cheadle is an ex-army explosives expert who gets caught up being associated with a terrorist group from the Middle East. Pearce plays an FBI agent determined to protect our nation from any other terrorist attacks and seems bent on connecting Cheadle to the terrorist organization. Why an FBI agent is dealing with the foreign policy of global terrorism, I have still not figured out. But unbeknownst to Pearce, and to the viewer through a bit of the film, Cheadle is actually working for the government as a spy to bring down the entire terrorist group. It’s a complex film that is able to fit in some important ideas that need to be addressed in our nation, but the tactics of story and direction don’t fully match up with the expectations of its concept.
Don Cheadle is the most likeable character in the film because he seems to be a righteous person from the beginning, except for the fact he’s an arms dealer to whoever wants to buy, terrorists included. He then stands up to the FBI who automatically gets on our bad side by hitting Cheadle while he’s tied up. The set up feels very contrived, but it gets the job done. The mention of the FBI dealing in international affairs is brought up but never fully resolved. Regardless, Cheadle still does a decent job of acting as a man torn between helping a man he has come to respect but is a terrorist and attempting to not harm anyone as an undercover agent to bring the terrorist organization down. The philosophical viewpoints through the film are what helps keep it the most interesting because many things tend to be a catch-22. He can’t continue delving into their group unless he supplies them with bombs but doesn’t want to give them bombs because of the repercussions. The constant banter between Cheadle and other leaders of the terrorist group gives the movie more insight to the Muslim religion and the different aspects of having belief in it.
Even though the story was multi-faceted, the entire package barely kept my interest. It sounds better on paper and in the trailer. Interesting fact: If you watch the trailer, it mentions nothing about Islam which is a central part. Traitor is an interesting film in many ways but falls short. It’s one of those films that will be forgotten in just a short time. 2 ½ Stars
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