Indeed, the whole film is oddly poised between the pensive and the peevish, with a topdressing of high jinks.
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A lesser entry in the LeCarré Cinematic Universe, though Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgård rescue it from complete blandness.
Once you get past some bumps in the road of believability, Our Kind of Traitor turns into a brisk, energetic drama, with Anthony Dod Mantle’s photography adding interesting layers to a fairly straightforward plot.
While McGregor and Harris convincingly portray a couple in trouble, and Lewis’s odball spook is an uneasy fit, it is Skarsgard’s dynamic performance which saves the day.
It's a finely made thriller that's a little bit more contemporary than other le Carré adaptations before it, and allows the central trio a chance to shine and Lewis to do some weird things with his accent and mouth as a weirdly laid back and unconcerned British agent.
The film, while gorgeously shot, is schematic and wholly implausible. But Skarsgård saves it; wild and funny and ferociously alive, he’s a crucial bolt of color in all that tasteful gray.
Although engaging enough to hold interest, the just slightly off casting of Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard...dampens plausibility.
Director Susanna White favours a generic spy-movie look: those chilly blue filters surely need resting now. Yet she works smartly with her actors: while Skarsgård wolfs down great handfuls of scenery, McGregor effectuates a thoughtful transformation from ineffectual tourist to man in the field.
The shattering of one’s noble ideals is a delicate thing to capture on film, and White plays the moment of rupture with a banality that threatens to undermine our faith in her as storyteller more than in the system itself.
It’s a film whose final shape feels dwindled by compromise – not unappealing, but stymied, like a luxury jet which spends two hours taxiing on the runway.