Traitor is the latest in a line of “war on terror” films, following excellent titles such as The Kingdom. Thankfully, Traitor is superb in its own right, easy to grasp and engaging throughout. With only minor flaws, Traitor will keep you involved until the credits roll.
Don Cheadle, superb as always, plays Samir Horn. A devout muslim, Horn is supposedly working for a terrorist organization, building bombs and carrying out the bombings himself. The title gives away a rather obvious plot point, but when it’s revealed, the film takes a full turn into aggressively capturing the viewers attention as his plan unravels.
That’s one problem with Traitor. It takes nearly an hour for the real plot to kick in, and there are extraneous scenes beforehand that hardly feel necessary. While not a complete waste as it works as a character builder, it simply feels unnecessarily stretched.
Guy Pearce and Neal McDonough play FBI agents going after Horn, fitting into their roles naturally while adding a feeling of authenticity. Jeff Daniels is miscast, and isn’t believable in his role, which revealing would be giving away a spoiler. On top of that, he has three scenes total, and while he’s integral to the plot, should have been played by a different actor.
Traitor is a movie on a global scale, adding a nice sense of danger to the proceedings in that the attacks could happen anywhere. Location shoots benefit the film, rarely leading to repetitive photography.
While not action packed, the few shootouts and fight scenes are handled well. This is the largest film Jeffery Nachmanoff has ever tackled as a director, yet gives Traitor a fast-paced sense of danger when the bullets start flying. Editing is tight but never to the point where it’s difficult to understand what’s happening.
Traitor may not have had a massive budget or top tier acting class, but this effective international thriller has more than enough going for it to overcome its obstacles. Cheadle is more than effective as a leading man, and perfectly captures a complex character in Samir. It’s worth it for his performance alone, and thankfully the rest of the movie holds up as well. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
What starts off as a blinding, over-contrasted disaster quickly turns into a beautiful, detail rich AVC encoded transfer. While that contrast does make a return, it’s a visual style for the film, not a transfer problem. Natural flesh tones lead a strong color presentation, and the sharpness only wavers in some of the darker scenes. A hint of digital noise can creep into some random shots, though it’s brief enough not to be a complaint. There’s no noticeable artifacting or artificial enhancement. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Video]
Sadly, this TrueHD mix is a disappointment. It’s as if the stereo channels are only things that exist during the action scenes. The surround use is sparse even with heavy action, and non-existent elsewhere. Dialogue is well mixed so that it’s never over powered, though that’s not a problem for the bass either. Explosions have hardly any impact at all due to the flat LFE. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Two featurettes total about 10 minutes, and that’s about it for the extras with the exception of some BD-Live enabled trailer downloads. Action! is a short look at the choreography and stunts used in the actions scenes, but is padded with film footage. International Espionage deals with the location shoots. Both featurettes are in HD. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]