Sunday, February 2, 2014

TRAITOR (2008)

Written & Directed By: Jeffrey Nachmanoff 
 Story By: Steve Martin & Jeffrey Nachmanoff 
Cinematography By: J. Michael Muro 
Editor: Billy Fox 

Cast: Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Said Taghmaoai, Archie Panjabi, Neal McDonough, Jeff Daniels

Samir Horn is a former soldier, a devout Muslim, and U.S. citizen in the Middle East selling bomb detonators to Islamic radicals. He joins their cause as both the FBI and a rogue CIA agent track him. Horn escapes a Yemeni prison, goes underground in France where he proves his abilities, and is sent to the United States to choreograph a simultaneous and multiple terror attack. Will the intelligence agencies talk to each other, and can Horn be stopped?

Shockingly Steve Martin came up with the idea for the movie while filming BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE.

The film was shot in a mere 48 days, through 17 cities spread over 3 continents, and all for the relatively low budget of 22 million American dollars.

This is a surprising film that is best to go Into blind. As it presents itself as one film then reveals itself to be another.

It tackles what it's like to go undercover and the loyalties, relationships and friendships you make and how you start to wonder which side is right and which side you Should be on. What it feels like of you should betray the other side. That is the hidden drama underneath all the action scenes. Though the film tries to play out more like espionage.

The film is pretty cut and dry separate from the presentation and twist. Co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff was eventually asked to direct the film after the original director dropped out.

I will give the film credit as luckily the film wasn't cast with the typical action hero type actor or flavor of the month. Instead we get a grounded dramatic actor who manages to surprise in the role and makes t his that feels more lived in providing the proper jolts and make the situations feel fresh and alive.

Don Cheadle already an excellent dramatic actor impresses as he takes to action like a fish to water. Though his character is conflicted he is just as tough as any other action heroic character. I wish he was in more films like this of course of more higher quality as this one is. Though it's hard to hide the fact that the film has a bit of a stench of trying to test the pulling power of Don Cheadle as solo star. Though it seems the type of film Wesley Snipes would be a natural for.

Matthew McConaughey was considered for the part of FBI Agent Roy Clayton.

I really enjoyed this film a lot as I believe going into it I didn't expect much. So while pleasantly surprised it also drew me in very quickly. I was on the edge of my seat throughout. The film is also noteworthy at least for me as the return of an African American action hero to the films that has been voided in a major motion picture since Wesley snipes though you can count Michael Jai white for straight to DVD films.

Of course this movie is seen as disposable but also offers up some powerful questions about loyalty and honor. It has more dramatic qualities then your average action film. It also has a twist not an awe inspiring one, but a well thought out one that makes the whole viewing of the film a particular joy even of you know what it is, the film isn't hampered by it. Putting all it's eggs in one basket. It is just an added joy to the whole package.

A satisfying rental

 Grade: B-

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