Le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor, film review: ‘Up-to-date but traditional spy tale

Ewan McGregor stars in Our Kind Of Traitor. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk

Ewan McGregor stars in Our Kind Of Traitor. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk - Credit: Archant

Yes, of course it’s a Le Carré. Even if you didn’t know the title already, you’d know. That title is quintessential Le Carré.

He made his reputation with Cold War tales of old school ties locking horn with their Russian KGB counterparts, but has had to adapt to a changing world: he now does tales of old school ties locking horns with the Russian mafia.

There’s something very Le Carré about the way it puts a wildly improbable figure into a realistic scenario and then plays it absolutely straight.

A London couple, Perry and Gail (McGregor and Harris), struggling through a romantic trip to Marrakesh, get sucked into the schemes of Russian mafiosi, Dima (Skarsgård).

Fearing for his life, Dima wants to spill his money laundering secrets to the Brits.

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He sees Perry, a lecturer in poetry - which translates into gullible rube in any language - as the way to get his message to British intelligence, personified here by Lewis wearing Harry Palmer glasses.

With its tale of corrupt British politicians in the pay of the Russian mob and the economic powerhouse of the City being propelled mostly by blood money, it is bang up to date.

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In most ways though it is a traditional spy tale, following a jet set route through Marrakesh, London, Paris and Bern and featuring the kind of cold blooded bartering over people’s lives that has always been this writer’s forte.

It’s a decent enough espionage yarn, and like any decent enough espionage yarn you never know who to trust – is Le Carre really serious with this idealistic poetry lecturer?

Rating: 3/5 stars

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