?Traitor? does not betray the audience

Emin Avakian

One thing ‘Traitor’ is not is a traitor to its audience who expects a suspenseful movie with great twists and superb acting to fit the genre that only a few movies, in recent memory, such as ‘The Bourne Identity,’ have been able to raise the bar.

‘ ‘Traitor’ does not try to be this year’s Bourne Installment and main character Don Cheadle doesn’t attempt to do his version of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. ‘Traitor’ is more dramatic and realistic and makes one think about life instead of tuning it out. Still, like ‘Bourne Ultimatum,’ the various action sequences are very satisfying.

Cheadle stars as Samir Horn, an undercover Special Operations agent for the United States. While still very young Horn witnesses his father killed by a car bomb and in the film it is very unclear as to who was responsible for the bomb.

The dynamic and curious nature of uncertainty worked in favor for the film. When Horn enlists on the American side to become a Special Operations agent, it’s still unclear which side he is loyal to.

Captured in a raid on a terrorist safe house, Samir is imprisoned in Yemen, and there he befriends Omar, played by Said Taghmaoui, a key figure in an Al-Qaeda-like organization.
Soon after Horn and Omar meet they escape from the Yemen prison, and because of Horn’s demolitions expertise he is invited to join the terror network run by the elusive Nathir, played by Raad Rawi. In pursuit of this organization is a team of FBI agents led by Roy Clayton, played by Guy Pearce, who knows that Nathir has a terrorist strike planned inside the United States.

Despite its complexity, the narrative doesn’t get too complex to the point of confusion. The action sequences serve as only a backdrop to the film’s underlying tone of today’s battle between religious ideologies. At the same time, it doesn’t choose a side, but rather lets the actors act out their parts according to the script.

Director Jeffery Nachmanoff, best known for having written ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ teamed up with comedic genius Steve Martin to write the film.

In the end the film has a very basic formula of good casting and a good script that go along very well with a director who knows when actively direct and when to allow the formula to play itself out. ‘Traitor’ is no exception to this rule.