Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff.
Written by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Steve Martin.
Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Neal McDonough and Saïd Taghmaoui.
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 9/1/08
"Traitor" showed up in theaters so quietly that I never even saw a
trailer for it. Not one, all summer long! There was,
however, a poster for the film at the theater I normally hit in
Gaithersburg, so in wasting some time and money this weekend at the
movie theater, I figured, why not give my man Don Cheadle a shot???
Well, "Traitor" is a mixed bag. It's weird, really--you get
Cheadle playing Samir Horn, a Sudan-born, U.S.-raised bomber who is
captured in Yemen with other Middle Eastern terrorists and put in
jail for what appears to be a life sentence. You get a decent
number of plot twists, Guy Pearce playing another American, Jeff
Daniels in what can only be called a throwaway role, and a script
co-written by Steve Martin...yes, THAT Steve Martin.
The whole thing adds up to a so-so time at the movies, though.
Cheadle brings his normal charisma to this very complicated part--in
fact, I can't think off the top of my head of a more overwritten,
complex character than his Horn, who in addition to the upbringing
has a deeply religious background, a double-agent type thing going
on, a conscience to not kill innocents but to let innocents die
right in front of him, and at one point the option of going to
prison for the rest of his life...and, taking it! His
character aside, though, the other aspects of this film are fairly
run-of-the-mill, and if anyone besides Cheadle was playing this lead
character, I think "Traitor" would have made for a long two-hour
experience in the theater.
That's because Pearce is playing a fed who essentially is left with
those funny operational scenes that feature people reacting to
camera feeds, or reading Horn's incredible background profile, or
interrogating suspects. And, the terrorists here are not very
interesting, and they are running what is quickly becoming the
standard playbook for Middle Eastern terrorists in Hollywood
films...I'll admit that our choices are limited these days.
All bad guys fall into the following categories:
Middle Eastern terrorists, the jihad,
Muslims in general;
Yakuza, Asian gangs/terrorists in
Eastern Europeans, typically Russian
types, although strangely, a number of these films are shot in
the Czech Republic, since it's so cheap to operate there.
I kind of miss the Nazis in a way, but now,
our new movie Nazi is a Muslim terrorist who has a major grudge
against the American way of life. Yawn.
"Traitor" isn't bad, but hey, it could use
some work, too.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard