Movie Review for Traitor (2008)

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Review #677 of 365
Movie Review of Traitor (2008) [PG-13] 114 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $11.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 28 August 2008 @ 3:55 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: nothing

Soundtrack: Download now from Mark Kilian & Marcel Adjibi - Traitor - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hollywood Palms)
Written by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow ) with story by Steve Martin and Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Don Cheadle (Ocean's Thirteen) • Guy Pearce (The Proposition) • Saïd Taghmaoui (The Kite Runner) • Neal McDonough (88 Minutes) • Aly Khan (A Mighty Heart) • Archie Panjabi (A Mighty Heart ) • Raad Rawi (The Kingdom) • Hassam Ghancy (Rendition) • Mozhan Marnò (Charlie Wilson's War ) • Adeel Akhtar ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent") • Jeff Daniels (Space Chimps)

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Billed as a thriller, Jeffrey Nachmanoff's Traitor starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Neal McDonough, and Saïd Taghmaoui unfortunately fails to live up to the expectations of that label and further establishes the annual reputation for August as being a poor month for film releases. The story follows a familiar arc of which, by now, most USAers are growing increasingly bored as evidenced by very poor box office performance. Sami Horn (Cheadle) lost his father when he was just a little boy to a terrorist bombing in the Middle Eastern African nation of his birth. Virtual refugees in the USA, he and his mother rebuild their lives in Chicago. But for reasons unknown, he grows up and leaves a special opps military division to become a private arms dealer in the Middle East. Maybe he dreams of exacting revenge on his father's death, who knows? But, regardless, he finds himself in prison in Yemen on charges of terrorism. There he is offered sanctuary by US Government agents Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough). He rejects their offer probably because he's just too sick in his heart and stomach. During his stay in prison, though, he is befriended by Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui) who eventually orchestrates their escape. The two then proceed to meet up with the big boss of terrorism and his number one, Fareed (Aly Khan). They need to test Samir on various small bombing missions until they feel he is ready for the big one, an all out assault on the freedom and way of life in the USA.

While the story is by Steve Martin who also produced, there's little comedy in this film, but likewise there are few thrills. Steering clear of the car chase mentality, this film is far more cerebral than that and fits better in the category of films including Rendition and Syriana —both of which, incidentally were better films than this.

…a thriller with few thrills…
Part of the reason that the plot of Traitor doesn't work as effectively is that the twist for the main character is given away too soon in the film and the final climatic twist it too grisly and self-righteous to believe. There's really no new ground here as far as the depth of the plot, and as for the central topic of terrorists intending to harm the USA go, it's the kind of thing most people don't like to watch as it makes them feel nervous and even more uneasy.

While true, people go to movies for a variety of reasons, the most obvious reasons are to be entertained or to learn some. The story isn't entertaining, it's grim, with the exception of Mr. Cheadle's Samir Horn, and Saïd Taghmaoui's Omar which were both very well done. Guy Pearce and Neal McDonough give their government agency jobs a good try, but there's not enough there with which to work. As for learning something, well, let's not go there.

… a dreary, downer of a film …

Sadly, despite valiant efforts, Traitor is a dreary, downer of a film, and particularly bad way to end a raucous summer of really good movies.

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Other Projects Featuring Traitor (2008)
Cast Members
Don CheadleGuy PearceSaïd Taghmaoui
Neal McDonoughAly KhanArchie Panjabi
Raad RawiHassam GhancyMozhan Marnò
Adeel Akhtar
Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Review-lite Traitor (2008) [max of 150 words]
Don Cheadle plays Samir Horn, a former special opps guy turned rogue arms dealer with a secret. Unfortunately, this dreary downer of a film leaves you cold despite the twists and turns and attempts to delve into some kind of understanding between those men and women that commit their lives to terrorism believing in a higher good from their actions. Jeffrey Nachmanoff directs from his own screenplay adapted from a story by Steve Martin, but don't expect this to be a comedy.

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