'Our Kind of Traitor' is diverting but not the best adaptation of Le Carré

'Traitor' stars Ewan McGregor as British academic Perry, who encounters a Russian with mob connections (Stellan Skarsgård) who wants Perry's help.

Jaap Buitendijk
'Our Kind of Traitor' stars Ewan McGregor (l.) and Stellan Skarsgård (r.).

John Le Carré’s novels have been adapted so many times, sometimes superlatively, for the movies and television that each new arrival seems to conjure up all the others. “Our Kind of Traitor,” directed by Susanna White from a script by Hossein Amini and starring Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård, is in the midrange in quality: better than a few, not nearly up to, say, “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," "The Russia House,” or the TV miniseries “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Which is not to say the movie is anything less than diverting. It’s just that diverting is often all it is.

McGregor plays Perry, a British academic vacationing in Marrakesh with his lawyer wife, Gail (Naomie Harris), as they attempt to patch up their marriage. There they encounter Dima (Skarsgård), a wealthy, boisterous Russian with mob connections who, it turns out, wants Perry to persuade the British government to secure his family’s escape in exchange for proof that a British MP (Jeremy Northam, in a bit role) is laundering dirty money for the Russians.

It’s all far-fetched in a way that only international spy thrillers – bless their hearts – can be. Perhaps the most far-fetched thing about it is Skarsgård’s Russian accent. But he strikes a sympathetic note as a man whose obstreperousness cannot disguise his ferocious love for his family. McGregor, by contrast, seems a bit miscast as an addled academic who must locate his inner ninja. Grade: B (Rated R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use.)

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.