Thursday, August 28, 2008


Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Don Cheadle Stars in International Potboiler as Possible Manchurian Muslim Mole

Provided you haven’t seen the trailer for Traitor, you’re likely to enjoy this edge-of-your-seat political potboiler immeasurably. However, if you have already caught the commercial, then you are already aware of the picture’s otherwise cleverly-concealed plot twist revealed only towards the end of the picture.
Left unspoiled, the film is a taut, international thriller revolving around the 007-like exploits of Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), a U.S. Special Forces Agent serving solo overseas on a covert, counterespionage operation. The point of departure is a flashback to the moment in his childhood when he witnessed his father being blown up by a car bomb.
Fast-forward to present-day Yemen, where Samir is attempting to imbed himself inside a cell of Arab religious fanatics. He is only able to gain their confidence after being arrested in a round-up of suspected terrorists.
While behind bars, the bilingual poser manages to convince the gang’s ringleader, Omar (Said Taghmaoui), that he is a devout Muslim born and raised in Sudan. The two bond after embarking on a spectacular death-defying jailbreak which leaves them blood brothers sworn to perform crimes against humanity together in the name of Allah.
Then, it’s not long before the pair is masterminding a series of attacks not only in the Middle East, but in Europe and America, too. Samir, as an Army-trained explosives expert, is able to train suicide bombers while outfitting them with detonators. This development is not lost on the interagency task force led by Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough), crack FBI agents who just happen to be monitoring his every movement.
They, of course, are curious about the identity of this ostensibly-disloyal American, and wonder whether he’s truly a traitor or merely an al-Qaeda infiltrator on a secret mission. Determining the answer without blowing Samir’s cover proves to be easier said than done, and writer/director Jeffrey Nachmanoff is very adept at keeping his audience guessing for almost as long as the investigating officers themselves remain in a quandary.
Also Credit Don Cheadle’s masterful performance for making Traitor riveting for the duration. For he ever so convincingly plays Samir as a sympathetic, seemingly-conflicted soul who just might be a Manchurian Muslim mole afterall. Perhaps of more significance is how the movie simultaneously seeks to serve as a sophisticated appeal to tolerance by its deliberate differentiating between radical Islam and the moderate version of the faith practiced by the overwhelming majority of Muslims.
A curious whodunit which has you far more concerned with the mindset than the apprehension of a mass murderer.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for brief profanity, mature themes, and intense violence.
In English and Arabic with subtitles.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: Overture Films

To see a trailer for Traitor, visit:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did anyone happen to catch the Don Cheadle skit on the Jimmy Kimmel Show last night? It was a goofy behind-the-scenes look at his new film Traitor, and it had me laughing non-stop! He's such a great actor, and it's nice to see he has an awesome sense of humor too! Traitor is in theaters now. If you missed the skit, you can find it here: