Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traitor (2008)


To betray is to go against what is expected with the greatest of malice. It’s a stab in the back, not a pleasant surprise. He who betrays is the traitor.

For the film of the same name – Traitor – it was obvious from the title alone that someone will go against someone; there will be betrayals. Set in the age of the war against terror there are many sides to this film: the Americans, the Arabs, the terrorists, and the ideology.  The trick in this movie is to find out who betrays who, but most importantly who survives.

Don Cheadle leads the movie as Samir Horn, formerly trained in the US Special Forces; he now sells explosives in the Middle East. If you think spy you are correct, but that is where the simplicity stops.

Horn is a devout Muslim. In a world when armies no longer fight countries but people in the shadows, it will not be impossible to forget who you are. There are no flags only ideologies.  With this war sometimes branded as a holy war, how can Horn cut off from family and friends maintain his soul especially when he needs to reach out to terrorists.

There are many scenes where Horn is engaging debates with Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui) a contact from the terrorists group. The treatment was fair; not always against, but also not always in favor of those who blow themselves up for virgins in heaven.

Supporting the strong performance of Don Cheadle is Guy Pearce as FBI Agent Roy Clayton. Clayton is leading a task force assigned to track down a terrorist group responsible for a spate of bombings in Europe. His approach balances well with Max Archer who I can describe as having the typical ‘us against them’ attitude in this war. 

Aside for being a dramatized debate on who or what is a traitor, the film Traitor is also a cat and mouse chase between the FBI and the terrorist group. How can you find an enemy well hidden among a largely peaceful citizenry?

Put a spy inside you say? Well the downfall of what can be a successful spy operation is that information is always compartmentalized. No one knows who Horn is. A history with the Special Forces mean nothing, unfortunately what direction he prays to may mean everything.

Horn could be a traitor as far as most people know. But to whom; the US, the Arabs, the creeds of Islam, well you’d have to watch.

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