Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


BOY AM I GLAD YOU GUYS FINALLY ARRESTED ME: Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), ostensibly a U.S. Special Forces agent, has managed to achieve the first step in his attempt to plant himself within a radical Islamic terrorist group in the Middle East in order to gather intelligence about their operational methods.

The Traitor: Is Don Cheadle a Muslim Mole Infiltrating U.S. Special Forces?

Kam Williams

Provided you haven’t seen the trailer for Traitor, you’re likely to enjoy this edge-of-your-seat political potboiler. However, if you have already seen the commercial, then you are aware of the picture’s otherwise cleverly concealed plot twist that is revealed towards the end of the picture.

The film is a taut thriller revolving around the 007-like exploits of Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), a U.S. Special Forces Agent overseas on a covert counterespionage operation. The film begins with a flashback to 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 infiltrate a cell of Arab religious fanatics. He is able to gain their confidence after he is arrested in a round-up of suspected terrorists.

While behind bars, bilingual Samir manages to convince the gang’s ringleader, Omar (Said Taghmaoui), that he is a devout Muslim who was born and raised in Sudan. The two form a close bond after they pull off a spectacular jailbreak which leaves them blood brothers sworn to perform crimes against humanity together in the name of Allah.

Soon the pair is masterminding a series of attacks not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe and America. Samir, as an Army-trained explosives expert, is able to train suicide bombers while outfitting them with detonators. Their exploits bring them to the attention of an interagency task force led by FBI agents Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough), who are monitoring the pair’s movements.

The agents are curious about this apparently disloyal American, and are trying to figure out whether he’s a traitor or 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 keeps the audience guessing for almost as long as the investigating officers themselves remain uncertain.

Don Cheadle’s masterful performance makes Traitor a riveting movie. He convincingly plays Samir as a sympathetic, but conflicted soul who just might be a mole planted by the radical Muslims in the U.S. Special Forces.

Perhaps of more importance is the way that the movie shows the differences between the radical form of Islam and its more moderate version that is practiced by the vast majority of Muslims.

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.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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