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Review: Familar spy thriller ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ fades into scenery

Naomie Harris and Ewan McGregor in the movie "Our Kind of Traitor."
(Jaap Buitendijk / Lionsgate / Roadside Attractions)

It’s competently made, well-acted and largely intelligent, so why isn’t the spy thriller “Our Kind of Traitor” more rewarding? Perhaps it’s the feeling that we’ve trod this kind of twisty treachery on screen ad infinitum since before the Cold War-era stylings of Alfred Hitchcock — and far more vividly. That the film, directed by Susanna White, is based on a novel by prolific — and oft-produced — espionage master John le Carré may add to the déjà vu.

Poetics professor Perry (Ewan McGregor) and lawyer Gail (Naomie Harris) are on a romantic holiday in Marrakech when they become enmeshed in the fallout from an international money-laundering web.

The trouble starts when Perry, to Gail’s dismay, befriends showy, persuasive Russian mobster Dima (Stellan Skarsrd). Perry then impulsively — and incredibly — agrees to deliver secret information to British intelligence that will implicate a corrupt Parliament member (Jeremy Northam), extricate Dima from the Russian Mafia and ensure the safety of Dima’s family.

Suffice to say, this is all easier said than done, especially once a steely MI6 agent (Damian Lewis) gets involved.

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Globe-trotting, murder and cat-and-mouse intrigue ensues, but without a glut of action or mayhem. This relative restraint might have been more admirable if the pragmatic script by Hossein Amini took the time to explore Perry and Gail’s shaky relationship instead of allowing their woes to ultimately fade into the nicely shot scenery.

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‘Our Kind of Traitor’

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use

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Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: In limited release


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