OUR KIND OF TRAITOR review

When I found out that this was based on a book, I immediately watched this trailer and thought, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” I feel like there aren’t many unique minds that capture such complex stories like these as novelists do compared to screenwriters. But either way, I was certainly intrigued. Ewan McGregor has been a great actor in my book, even since the days of the Star Wars prequels. Stellan Skarsgård is… hit or miss, depending on the material he’s given (THOR: THE DARK WORLD anyone?), but is generally a good actor. It looked like a well-crafted enough story with a ton of layers, but I was ready to see what this was all about. This is my honest opinion of OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows couple Perry (Ewan McGregor), who’s a university professor, and Gail (Naomie Harris), who’s a lawyer. They’ve been having a hard time connecting lately, mostly because of Gail’s work schedule and Perry having had an affair with a student of his. In an attempt to reconnect, they go on holiday to Morroco. While at a restaurant, they meet a kindly but eccentric gentleman named Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). Inviting the two of them to a party, he pulls Perry aside to a private place and reveals that he’s actually a money launderer for the mafia, claiming himself to be the best. Well, the new leader of his group, The Prince (Grigoriy Dobrygin), is threatening Dima and his wife and children. Desperate for protection, he intends to hand off vital information to Perry to pass on to the British government. But politics and clever enemies prevent things from happening easily and the deeper in to this mess that Perry and Gail go, the more perilous everything becomes.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: I have never read the original book.

No joke, I think I missed the first five to ten minutes of this movie, something I very rarely do, so this review might be a tad unfair because I feel like I missed so much context, but here we go just the same.

Meh.

Skarsgård is probably the standout of the movie, mostly because he’s given the most to work with, but even then his character feels really recycled. How many movies have there been throughout cinematic history about defectors selling out their partners or leaders for protection? He’s a ruthless, merciless killer and manipulator, but he’s a loving father and husband. I feel like there’s countless of these characters. I should go on record and say that he’s by no means a bad actor in the movie. Far from it. There’s just nothing that makes him a character that will stand the test of time, or even really in Skarsgård’s resume.

I suppose the only really great moments are when he’s interacting with his kids. Dima does seem like he has a great connection with his kids and some genuinely funny banter. About the only person in the family that serves no purpose was the wife. Pretty sure her only role in the movie was maintain her worry-face and have a three second scene of her crying. Seriously, what did she do in this movie? Did she even have a line?!

And speaking of underused actors, McGregor. Again, I love this man. I think he’s a great actor and has proven it time and again (REVENGE OF THE SITH, TRAINSPOTTING), but… am I the only one who feels like he’s constantly playing characters that get roped into situations by chance that he doesn’t want any real part of (MILES AHEAD, THE PHANTOM MENACE)? I feel like it’s getting repetitive. Not that it’s his fault or anything, a man’s gotta work, but… damn, Hollywood. Give this guy a juicier role! Once again, like Skarsgård, he’s not in any way giving a bad performance. Again, we’ve just seen this performance before, both from him, and a thousand times in other movies.

If you really want a broken heart, let’s talk about Harris. Dear fucking lord, this is a wonderful actress. She was the creepy crab goddess thing from the second and third PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, she was the bad-ass black chick in 28 DAYS LATER, she was the comedy relief Moneypenny in the two latest 007 Bond films, SKYFALL and SPECTRE… fuck you, Hollywood for giving this amazing woman this dull role. Seriously, I think Gail was pointless. Take her out of the story, let her stay at home while Perry does all this dangerous shit, and the movie would progress just the same. Yeah, Dima keeps requesting Gail to accompany Perry on all their undercover “ops,” but… fuck, man, all she does is stare at Perry lovingly when he shows off his convictions and make googily eyes when he’s being a good man. Again, she doesn’t really do anything. This is a role you could give to anybody. Literally anybody and it would have worked just as well. A moment of silence for Harris’ wasted time (her paycheck better have been sweet, or… I’m gonna complain about that too, by gum!).

I’m not even sure if I can even really talk about what I really liked. The only thing that prevented me from nodding off from boredom was the star power and performances that these actors are giving their all in. Maybe a few clever bits here and there, maybe one or two awesome scenes, but it just doesn’t make up for the lack of originality or anything that’s particularly exciting.

And the sad thing is, this movie has potential. I’m sure you bookworms could talk my ear off about how nuanced and complex the novel is by comparison, and I would believe you (so shut up), but that didn’t translate into the film. This movie could really have crafted a really great story about the complexities of right and wrong, the subtle consequences of walking away, the inner turmoil of a man completely out of his league all in the name of doing what he believes is right, there was some serious drama that could have been played up, but wasn’t. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty forgetful film. Unless you’re a fan of the cast, you probably won’t get too much out of it. For me, everyone prevents it from being awful, but it’s lack of drive to be anything great or memorable make for a poor experience. Not the worst, but I could live without seeing it a second time.

My honest rating: a weak 3/5

our-kind-of-traitor-poster1

Upcoming review:

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JANE GOT A GUN review

Well, here’s a movie that’s got a bit of history to it. This film was announced way back in 2011. It didn’t start getting its cast in until 2012 and originally had Natalie Portman as the title character, Michael Fassbender as another protagonist, then Joel Edgerton as the villain, and the director would be Lynne Ramsay. The cast would then hit its first known bump when in 2013 Fassbender left due to commitment to DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Edgerton then took the role of the other protagonist and he was replaced by Jude Law as the villain. But then Ramsay left the project and Law left not long after, due to only signing on to work with Ramsay. Gavin O’Connor replaced Ramsay and Bradley Cooper eventually replaced Law. The script went through a rewrite, and then Cooper left the project in favor of AMERICAN HUSTLE, to which he was eventually replaced by Ewan McGregor. Originally the movie was set for a 2014 release, but then co-distributor Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy while losing the rights to the film back in 2015, to which their co-distributor, The Weinstein Company fully acquired the film.

Whew! Anyone else need a nap after that?

Yeah, after such a roller-coaster lifespan this movie had, I didn’t think it’d be very good. But I guess when a project goes through such a continuous production crisis as this, you gotta go and see if it churned out anything good. Soon as KUNG FU PANDA 3 ended, got my ticket for it. This is my honest review of JANE GOT A GUN.

(SUMMARY)

Jane (Natalie Portman) is a wife to an outlaw named Bill (Noah Emmerich) and a mother to their small child. But one day, Bill comes home having been shot to hell, but still alive. Jane is told that Bill’s former posse, the Bishop Boys gang, led by the dastardly Colin McCann (Ewan McGregor), is coming for him. In hopes of finding help to defend her home from the gang, she seeks out her ex-husband and former army veteran Dan (Joel Edgerton). But their backstory makes for an awkward and head-butting venture that turns complicated when maybe the flame of their relationship has not died out.

(REVIEW)

Well, if you read my brief history of the movie, you might get the same impression that I did. And… yeah, it’s not very good.

I won’t pretend to know anything about the film industry, but I imagine from what I’ve read, there’s at least two things that happen that raise red flags. The first being losing a director. Not all directors have the same vision. Sometimes radically different, or subtly. Either way, what one director goes for will rarely be what the other goes for and yield the same or even similar results. The other red flag would be when a script goes through rewrites. If I remember correctly, rewrites are usually because a studio wants the story to go their way. They paid the screenwriter for the script, the writer gets their name in the credits, but now the script becomes the studio’s plaything. Changes tend to happen and have ended up hurting films in the past, like HANCOCK and ALIEN 3.

Well, whatever this movie was supposed to be is now lost in a confused, jumbled, and incredibly boring movie.

The one thing that irked me the most about this was how the flashback scenes were done. They just don’t fit with the tone of the rest of the film. Jane’s ex-fiance, Dan, went off to war and… never wrote her. This makes no sense since their relationship is nauseatingly whimsical. Seriously, bright yellow sunny days with wind blowing in the wheat fields, I felt like I needed a barf bag.

Years go by and Jane decides that her husband is dead. She has no proof of this, she’s just an impatient bitch. Seeking… I don’t know, work? Protection? She winds up finding the Bishop Boys gang and eventually shacks up with Bill, who’s a good man and wants to marry Jane. Well, as if on cue, bad shit happens. Jane is torn away from the daughter she had with Dan, and forced into prostitution and her daughter killed. Bill goes on a killing spree and quickly finds Jane. The two escape the gang and they have a child, all the while, Dan’s come home from the war and has spent a hefty amount of time looking for Jane… only to find her with Bill and a their baby. Jane sees him and everyone is all heart-broken and Dan rides off to leave Jane alone. Would you guess this was a western? Because this movie felt more like a really bad soap opera. I mean, when was a backstory like this last told in this way? These characters are painfully bland and uninteresting.

Nothing helps during the present-day stuff. Jane’s now asking Dan for help in defending her home by paying him for his services. Christ lady, just curl your hand into a fist and punch him in the dick. It’d be a whole lot less painful. But he wisely says no and sends her on her way, to which she throws back an undeserved quip. Yeah, I mean, you only assumed your fiance was dead, left him, got involved in a gang with your child at your heel, married another man, and had another baby with that man, but yes, Dan’s the bad guy in this situation. I follow the logic. No really, I do. *SARCASM*

Honestly, that’s the rest of the movie. Dan’s constantly being bitter and mentioning that all he is to Jane is hired help, and they go back and forth being pissed at each other or building up enough awful romantic tension to stop a fifty caliber bullet. Seriously, it’s ninety minutes of that. I was fighting to stay awake.

To make matters worse, the ending is hilariously awkward.

***SPOILERS***

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By the end of the movie, Bill’s been killed, so it’s just Jane and Dan. The bad-guys are dead except for McCann. As if this movie thinks it’s delivering the most intense twist of the last decade, the mustachioed deuche says that Jane’s first daughter never died and that it was all a cruel joke when it was revealed that she was. Oh, that got me awake alright. It’s just so lazily tacked on, you’re almost not sure if you’re really watching this.

Oh, but you are. They find this long-lost daughter, of all the fucking places in the entire world, right back where Jane was being sold as a prostitute. With nearly no effort spent, they find little miss slave washing clothes in the back yard. They hug, they cry, and Dan’s in the back staring fairly awkwardly.

But wait! The best has yet to come. Earlier in the movie, Jane gives her youngest daughter to a Native American tribe to protect her. By this time, they picked her up and took her to find her older half-sister. Jane and her older daughter are reunited and all that happens. Cut to the next god damned shot and it’s the two daughters in the back of the wagon sitting and staring opposite each other with blank expressions on their faces. I mean, really analyze that closer of a scene. You have two half-sisters who have never met, nor share a line of dialog. Their mom is up front, the very same mom that the older daughter hasn’t seen in nearly ten years, with Dan… the father of the older daughter that neither knew were related to each other. The very same Dan who is presumably about to the father to the younger daughter after her real father was murdered, and they’re all just riding off into the sunset not saying a damn word about everything that’s happened, as if this is a regular Wednesday afternoon. Don’t act like this hasn’t happened to you, dear readers.

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***END SPOILERS***

Man, I wish there was some redeeming value to this. Sure, the acting’s fine, but the characters are so uninteresting that there’s nothing any actor could bring to these roles to make them any good. It’s honestly a shock, what with all the problems this project had that the project continued at all.

If interested in what exactly happened, some additional details are in the link below.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/natalie-portmans-jane-got-a-430317

Hell, Collider.com almost has a series of articles chronicling the pre-production of this movie. It gets pretty dramatic.

It ain’t the most god-awful flick I’ve ever seen, but… damn, it sure wasn’t good. A damn shame because each and every other article out there kept saying how promising and feminist this western was supposed to be. I guess we’ll never know.

My honest rating: 2/5

Did anyone else agree? Did you find this movie as disjointed as I did? Or maybe did you enjoy it more? Let me know in the comments what you thought of the movie.