Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Review: Traitor

There is something to be said of a film that reasons with terrorism in it's favor for once, instead of against. It takes little bit of moxie to portray the star taking part in the cause of a terrorist group for much of the film. Don Cheadle is this man and he plays Samir Horn as a man of the highest faith in his Muslim beliefs. We see him, and his buddies going 'round and blowing shit up. Almost unprecedented, this film asks questions in the case of a terrorist, and argues we don't see the light that they do. Almost going as far as to say, "Where's the argument against what we do?"

Balls just to pen that script in times like these. Which is perhaps why this flopped at the B.O. Barely recouping it's 22 million budget back. But box office, as we know, is no reflection what so ever on the quality of the film.

But wait! There's more!

Central to the story is Samir and his terrorist leader friend, Omar (Taghmaoui), they are being chased around the globe by F.B.I. agents Roy Clayton (Pierce) and Max Carter (McDonough). We meet Samir at the age of 12 and he watches as his father kisses him goodbye, and then get's blown to smithereens from a car bomb. We then jump to present day as the same child, now grown, is selling 6 crates of Semtex to a terrorist cell in Yemen of all places. The cops bust in, kill some dudes, and throw Samir, and the second in command Omar--quickly appointed first by mistake if you catch my drift--in jail.

Samir, has a good heart, and not before taking some with him, takes a beating from fellow inmates for giving an old man his lunch. Omar sees him pray fives times a day, and hears him quote the Koran. He sees the purity in his spirit and strength in his beliefs. He is not fronting on first street about his Muslim-ness, he is the real deal. This is what causes him to befriend him in their hell hole of a Yemeni prison. Agent Clayton shows up before he's actually thrown in jail, to offer him asylum back in the states for cooperation, he shafts him and get's tossed inside the steamy, dreary world of middle eastern prison. This is full of Muslims who argue with other Muslims. Not what we are stupidly lead to believe, not every middle eastern is friends with the other one in an Anti-American mutually beneficial cause. Nice.

Not after long, Omar get's busted out, and decides Samir has proven himself and brings him along. Samir teaches the group Omar bands together about bombs, bomb making and they hatch plans against America and it's satellite buildings in other countries. I almost tipped my hat with their final plan, a magnum opus if you will. It's particularly frightening.

Speaking of frightening, Saïd Taghmaoui has invoked a fear inside me twice now. Once in his short stint with Walhberg in Three Kings, and now again as the fearless, devote leader. He most likely has one of the feircest stares in all of film today. I don't want that sucka directing his eyes at me, that;s for damn sure. And that, makes a hell of a lot of difference when you can spit your lines out as nicely as you can look foreboding. He is effective here as another man of faith.

Faith, that runs through this movie like an ever flowing river.It was certainly something to see Samir and other's celebrating the defeat of infidels. Dead American's are of course, a victory to them. Samir goes as far to say "There should have been more... many more."

I won't tell you why he's in this, but Jeff Daniels pops up as a C.I.A lesion. Every once and a while, he'll pop up in something and remind us he was a fantastically subtle dramatic actor before he tried his hands at comedy... and now he teeters between dramedy and full on drama. He's always a reliable guy to have in your cast list and a pleasure to spend some time with in anything he does.

Guy Pierce has an uncanny ability to go virtually unnoticed by an audience, because he's always as honest as he can be with his characters, and I have a great appreciation for that. Some actors choose to wink at the camera--he never does that. And that is why he's a secret gem in town. Much better than limelight loser on screen. He plays an FBI agent with brains, not brawn (I couldn't stand his partner played by McDonough, I just don't like him in anything, though here, that was the point). Roy Clayton majored in Arabic studies, he knows the Koran and tries to understand, instead of simply capture.

Taking from some dialogue, Cheadle is told to remember who he answers to, he fires back with this gem:
"I answer to God. We all do."
Alrighty then. That's what I'm talking about. That's Cheadle's line of dialogue that defines Samir, maybe this film in a subtexty sort of way. He knew this, and used it as a back drop for every motivation he has. I couldn't help but think of Star Wars, "I see the conflict in you..." Make no mistake, this is a man with much conflict inside himself. It was awesome boy. This film, gave me chills as far as the fact, that it was attempting to tell, an accurate account of how it works, inside a cell. They don't always travel together, the hug out of religious respect and as say "asa lama lakum". They all show each other love and respect first and foremost, and operate sometimes individually, to come together as a strong group. They firmly believe they are carrying out death orders from other powers that be, and they all are willing to go down for it. Though some escape cowardly.

Jeffrey Nachmanoff doesn't try hard to give you thrills and action and hokey Hollywood bullshit. He attempts to show you that Muslims have a heart as well as a brain, and not every one of them is a silly extremist, some, just feel it's their destiny and the right thing for them. Some do not. Some want the money and power from the fear they create. And Samir just wants a quiet, rich life of love, and honor, under Allah.

Munki out.

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