ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – O – Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Hossein Amini (Screenplay) John le Carre (Novel)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Gatiss

 

Plot: A couple finds themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect, and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.


Tagline – Who can you trust with the truth?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Crime Thriller

 

Story: Our Kind of Traitor starts when British couple Perry (McGregor) and Gail (Harris) holidaying in Morocco meet Russian Mafia member Dima (Skarsgard) and the two men bond. Dima talks Perry into taking information back to MI6, which opens the door for the secret service agent Hector (Lewis) trying to investigate the information.

Returning with the information, Perry and Gail gets caught up in the middle of both sides even though they want to get on with their own lives, soon it is their lives that are in danger, who will come out on top.

 

Thoughts on Our Kind of Traitor

 

Characters – Perry is a university professor, he is trying to make amends with his wife on a romantic holiday, he reluctantly gets involved in the information trade with his good nature being used by both sides. Gail is the lawyer wife of Perry, she has become distant from him while still loving him and does question his decision to help Dima. Dima is the Russian mafia handling the accounts, but he wants out to help his own children become safe, he uses his connection with Perry to get MI6 involved in the truth. Hector is the MI6 agent that is willing to work with Dima for the information in exchange for the family, he does have his own grudge with the man they are trying to take down too.

PerformancesThe performances through the film show us just what Le Carre does with his characters, he gives them good moments, without making them stand out. McGregor is good, but you feel a younger up and comer would have been perfect here, Harris is good and doesn’t put a foot wrong, while Skarsgard enjoys his role, shady but loyal. Damian Lewis brings back his true English role which at times does feel weird knowing how often he has been an American character recently.

StoryThe story comes from a John Le Carre novel, so instantly we know we are going to get a thriller that keeps us guessing on what everyone’s motivation will be. The idea that a normal couple get mixed up in the middle of an international information exchange is different and does work for the film because it helps us stay on edge thinking and wondering if they do have a bigger involvement. The story does feel like that one moment to make it great is missing, as everything does end up feeling just normal and good only.

CrimeThe crime side of the film follows a criminal looking for a safe way out of the life for his family in exchange for bringing down the mafia’s dealings in London.

SettingsThe film splits the settings between London, for the deals, Morocco for the exchanges and the final location for the next chapter of the lives, they work because they show how this world would operate.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It lacks the edge of your seat style of Le Carre novels have given us.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid thriller even if it lacks that final factor to make it one of the best ones, it does the by the book material well, but never develops the characters enough to understand the situation they put themselves in.

 

Overall: Simple thriller.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Characters)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Maggie Smith

 

Plot: Nanny McPhee arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war, though she uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons.


Tagline – The magic’s back, warts and all.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Serious Sequel

 

Story: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang starts as we meet mother Isabel (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family home and raise her three children, while her husband is away at war, adding to her pressure is her brother-in-law Phil (Ifans) that is looking to get money and two cousins added to the family that are used to the luxury life.

When Isabel starts struggling, she gets the call from Nanny McPhee (Thompson) who offers to help put the children back in line with her magic. The children must learn to work together to help the farm stay in the right hands.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is the magical nanny that comes to family’s when they are in need of support, she has come to this family in their time of need to help teach them how to be together in one of the most difficult times in their lives, the war, she brings her rules like before as she looks to bring the best out in the people. Isabel is the mother of the three that is trying to run and farm and work, her husband is at war, with the uncertainty of whether he will be returning. She doesn’t want help, but must accept it to keep the pressures of her life away from her children. Phil is the brother-in-law to Isabel, he has created his own gambling debts and wants the farm to clear the debts, he will do anything to get what he needs. Mrs Docherty is the boss of Isabel and family friend, she isn’t quite all there which makes her character come off funnier than she should. The children do come from different worlds which does see them clash in the time of conflict.

PerformancesEmma Thompson does continue to enjoy playing this role which she handles with ease. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets to play the role well through the film, which shows us just how difficult a position her character is in. Rhys Ifans does everything you would imagine in the comedy role in the film, while Maggie Smith also adds plenty of comedy through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that takes over the family farm with her husband away at war, with money running low and the stress of life getting to her, that gets help from Nanny McPhee. The story here easily becomes a much more serious one because we are dealing with children that are being separated from their parents during war, where they don’t know if their family will be together once the war is over. This story does have a very different tone to the first one, one that does feel real, even though it does seem slightly stranger for Nanny McPhee to be here, this time around. The story here is more entertaining than the original which is always a good thing.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film does hit better than the first film, most of it comes from the arguments which feel funnier, the fantasy in the film does work too, which ends up blending with the comedy involved.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within one farm which does show us just how much trouble the family will be facing in their time of need.

Special EffectsThe effects here are the biggest step back sadly because we can see the CGI moments looking completely out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Connection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel that does have a strong story to cover up the weaker CGI being used in the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful sequel.

Rating