In 1978 in Yemen, young Samir Horn sees his father killed in a car-bombing terrorist incident. Flash forward to now, and Samir is trafficking explosives to a terrorist organization. Devout in his Muslim faith, Samir proves to be a valuable asset to the terrorist cell that he’s trying to sell to and is soon brought into it’s inner circle. All the while, he remains a central figure to an FBI terror investigation, though it also appears there’s more to this man than meets the eye.
Traitor is a brilliant and thrilling little film from director Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who also wrote the film, from a story from himself and Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and it’s just a really cool film giving insight to the terrorist mind, and plays it fair all the way through. It’s extremely well paced with really good, if understated, performances all around.
Really the only thing I thought was wrong with the whole thing was just that the trailer for the film blows the major twist of the film- it’s still entertaining regardless and it’s a fun ride getting to where it’s going, but I can only imagine how much cooler this would’ve been if you’d not known the twist going in.
This movie has a real first rate cast- Don Cheadle again proves that he’s one of our very best actors working today with his role of Samir, he plays this in such a way that you’re never quite sure what he’ll do next. Guy Pearce plays the straight arrow FBI agent who’s on his tail, and it’s very sincere stuff that he’s dealing out here. They’re backed up with solid work from Neal McDonough (Pearce’s partner and one of my favorite character guys to watch today), Said Taghmaoui (as the terrorist who brings Samir into the organization) and Jeff Daniels, as another government official who has a man deep inside the organization.
I really give this one high marks for playing it fair, much like The Kingdom did an for not falling into the standard Hollywood cliche of “we’ve seen the enemy and the enemy is us” and also just for being a real top-notch spy/terrorist thriller. The fact that Steve Martin co-wrote the story just makes this even more impressive. Very cool movie, up there with the best I’ve seen this year, and of course highly recommended…