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Movie Review

Traitor

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences, thematic material and brief language.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
August 27, 2008 (wide—1,800 theaters) DVD: December 19, 2008
Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Overture Films

Spies in the Bible

About murder in the Bible

Islam

TERRORIST REVENGE—Love replaces hatred—former Israeli soldier and an ex-PLO fighter prove peace is possible-but only with Jesus

About Islam—An Overview for Christians

Witnessing to Muslims

Recommended resources

How does the Qur’an compare to the Book of Genesis on the great events of history (Creation, Fall, Flood and confusion of languages)? Answer

Featuring: Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Saïd Taghmaoui, Neal McDonough, Aly Khan, Archie Panjabi, Raad Rawi, Hassam Ghancy, Mozhan Marnò, Adeel Akhtar, Jeff Daniels, Lorena Gale, Scali Delpeyrat, Mehdi Ortelsberg, Mohamed Choubi, Farid Regragui, Hamdane Habibe, Joseph Beddelem, Alaa Oumouzoune, Tom Barnett, Simon Reynolds, Matt Gordon, P. Rodney Barnes, Shahla Kareen, Paulino Nunes, Alexandra Castillo, Jeff Kassel, Mike McPhaden, Dani Jazzar, Jonathan Lloyd Walker, José Heuze, Scott Wickware, Elias Zarou, Myriam Blanckaert, Nick Alachiotis, Alex Poch-Goldin, Mostafa Hniny, Michaël Troude, Ron Bell
Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
The Day After Tomorrow
Producer: Ashok Amritraj, Don Cheadle, Steve Gaub, Arlene Gibbs, David Hoberman, Kay Liberman, Kay Liberman, Todd Lieberman, Steve Martin, Chris McGurk, Anjalika Mathur Nigam, Danny Rosett, Richard Schlesinger, Jeffrey Silver
Distributor: Overture Films

“The truth is complicated.”

“Traitor” is one of those films that challenges it's audience's thoughts and preconceived notions from the very start. What we may believe is happening, isn't quite accurate and what we suspect will unfold will likely be pretty far off.

Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), is an American Citizen who seems to live nowhere and everywhere all at once. Moving around, among terrorist cells in the Middle East he does business selling detonators and befriending men along the way. Surprisingly, we soon learn, he is also a devout Muslim. During a business meeting with an old friend in Yemin, who indecently seems to head a small portion of a large terrorist cell, the FBI infiltrates and Samir is arrested. It is in the Yemin prison that Samir first meets FBI Agents, Roy Clayton (Guy Pierce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough), who become his pursuers later in the film as Samir goes to work with a large terrorist organization.

As the film progresses, we learn the truth behind what Samir is involved in, and are forced to consider thoughts we may find uncomfortable as the characters on screen have to ask themselves what the differences are between the actions of America and the terrorist cells wishing to destroy her. As Samir himself, at times, seems torn with which side is the right side, we perhaps may question too…

Positives

Samir is a moral man. God is at the heart of everything he does. Though many Christians would see this and argue that his God isn't the same as our God, I would beg to differ. Though his life is complicated, and horrible results often arise from the choices that he makes, his goal is never self preservation.

There is a true importance and value placed on both life, and relationships, in this film. God is referenced by Samir consistently. The relationship between Samir and Omar (Said Taghamaoui) is one I found particularly touching…

Negatives

Of course, as the nature of any Governmental Intelligence or Terrorist plot, there is violence. There is one instance where someone is thrown to their death, (the after effects of this are not shown) a few instances of gunfire and several explosions. For the most part, however, the violence is minimal compared to other films of this genre.

Because the central characters in this film are devout Muslims, more focus is put on the necessity of prayer and obedience rather than profanity. That isn't to say that profanity is obsolete, there is language, but it's kept pretty tame in comparison.

Overall, I was impressed with “Traitor.” In a season where films with strong agendas are about to start coming out in large quantities, this movie challenges us to want to be different. Most commonly Hollywood creates films which display biased reflections of the favored side of war. In this film, we see perspectives and motivations of both the Terrorists and the Americans. We are forced to glimpse a fraction of the reason they've chosen the actions they have, and we see that—in their eyes—America's methods haven't been any more moral than their own. In one scene, near the beginning, when Samir first meets Agents Clayton and Archer, Archer asks him how he can sell detonators to the terrorists. Samir responds with “I sell them to Americans, too.” Archer scoffs at Samir and reacts with “Well, ours don't kill innocent people!” And Samir retorts honestly “uh, yeah they do.”

On the other side of the spectrum though, I want you to realize this isn't an Anti-American film. Quite the contrary. I just appreciate that it challenges us to be honest when forming our opinions—to see the man behind the action, and not just the action, no matter how destructive it is. Whether it's an African man or an American man, a Christian or a Muslim—man is the one responsible. Several times the destruction or safety of “mankind” is mentioned. Mankind is all of man, not just one nation of them…

I would recommend this movie to anyone who normally likes this genre of film. There were a few predictable moments, but several unexpected events still took place. It keeps it's audience engaged and it's outcome certainly didn't disappoint me. I left the theater entertained, but more so moved and contemplating…

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

TERRORIST REVENGE—Love replaces hatred—former Israeli soldier and an ex-PLO fighter prove peace is possible-but only with Jesus

Learn about Islam

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—What a great movie! Lots of twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged and guessing. Refreshingly clean for a movie of this genre with a message worth hearing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rachelle Smotherman, age 35
Positive—My wife and I both need a little diversion and wanted something of intrigue and action—and, for us on this night, this movie fit the bill. The story is compelling and we enjoyed the twist of plot. There is a bit of language—particularly from one of the non-dominate characters (blond headed FBI agent), but other than than that and some obvious violence—it is tolerable for most young adults. Fans of “24” or “Bourne Identity” or “Vantage Point” would likely enjoy this movie. There is some interesting perspectives of the Islamic faith that's shared, but it is not evangelical in that regard. From a biblical, Christian worldview perspective, however,I think there is analogy that can be drawn in recognizing that we are all at war, spiritually. It is easy to be deceived—and to misunderstand other peoples action. Also, it's never clear what God's ultimate plan is until we see it in the end. We can also conclude that it is important to seek God's will and fight the good fight of faith, no matter what. The important thing—not necessarily depicted in this movie—is that we should always seek to draw strength from God in fighting the good fight.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Gus, age 42
Positive—Excellent movie. Makes you think a lot. While it approaches everything from a Muslim point-of-view, it really makes the viewer think about what “god” really wants from us. The main character questions true morality. I thought they did an excellent job of keeping the Christian character in a good light and not a complete jerk. A lot of good story, character development and a couple of twists you don't see coming. My wife and I thought it was worth the money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Dan, age 39
Positive—A movie worth seeing as it will provide a very different perspective and window into the minds of other people—particularly that of fanatical Islamists. The pace is steady if slightly slow and the acting is good for the Islamists while appears lesser as pertains to the American characters. (Are we truly so 1-dimensional?)

Religion plays a distinct and prime role in the course of this movie and its adherents are pitted against following it to the letter or bending for the sake of difficult ethical decisions. This is made clear and in a worthy manner, but it should be understood that the Koran does teach the killing and violent subjugation of those not of that faith. Unlike Christianity, if you claimed to be a true and serious adherent of Islam, you would, by nature of the Koran, become as these fanatics. One simply cannot get away from this concept, as it replays itself in so many places in the Koran—this is the religion of the sword and those who appear fanatic are simply its most serious and accurate adherents.

It becomes difficult to determine exactly where the main character falls in the world of ethics and religion: is he completely sold out to Islam or does he retain an ethical code from a mainly Christian West? I would also suggest that Allah and the God of Christians are not the same—not even in essence, and this becomes somewhat blurred in this movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie for what it did offer and the ability it had to make the viewer reflect upon the end result of holding seriously to a given ideology or worldview. (For a clear and accurate resource on Islam read: Unveiling Islam)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joel Weber, age 36 (USA)
Positive—The hero is a Muslim, and I think it did a good job of showing Muslims as being people, too—some good, some bad—just like everybody else… I have a friend that is Muslim, and he's not anywhere close to being a terrorist, so that was neat that the good guys and the bad guys were both islamic, but with different takes on things. And its pretty intense, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim, age 25 (USA)
Positive—If you require all the movies you watch to have an active Christian theme or the characters to be active Christians, you may not like this movie. This isn't “Fireproof” or “Left Behind.” It's an intriguing action movie about secret Muslim terrorist cells. The main character is Muslim and as far as Muslims go, I'd say he's one of the good ones. Very interesting guy. He has a heart for justice and righteousness, which is refreshing.

If you enjoy movies like “The Bourne Identity,” then this is in that genre. If you don't enjoy watching movies like that, then you probably won't enjoy this one. This movie is generally a lot less violent and graphic than the Bourne movies are sometimes, but the theme and content is along the same lines.

I loved just about everything about the movie. It was extremely intriguing. It really does a great job of making you think and surprising you. Halfway through I was wondering, “What the heck is up with this guy. He's the hero of the movie? You gotta be kidding me!” But then just about the time you are starting to give up on him, the real story starts to unfold. And it just keeps getting better until the end!

If you are really pure about what you watch, maybe avoid this film. But if you can handle films that aren't totally biblical, yet still intriguing, then this is a very good one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jim Lewis, age 37 (USA)
Neutral

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Negative
Negative—My adult daughter and I viewed the trailer in deciding whether or not to see this movie. We both felt the trailer misrepresented the main theme, not a big surprise… Misty Wagner, the contributor, wrote, “Samir is a moral man. God is at the heart of everything he does. Though many Christians would see this and argue that his God isn't the same as our God, I would beg to differ.” Excuse me; Christianity believes that Christ is God incarnate (love and forgiveness coming to us in the form of Jesus). Islam prohibits it, as the Qur'an teaches Jesus is just a man, a prophet. Islam’s god is NOT the Christian’s God at all! In fact, Islam is about as far from Christianity as one can get. The trailer made the conflict seem to be from within the FBI in its fight against terrorism with a “traitor” being someone inside the FBI agent as Roy Clayton (Guy Pierce) vs undercover Samir Horn (Don Cheadle). However, the traitor is a “good” Muslim working within the bad Muslim world. We both felt deceived and wished we would have not spent the time or the money on this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Barb Sayer, age 57
Negative—I really wanted to enjoy this film and watched it with Clearplay Filters so that really helped tone down the objectionable content, but I couldn't get away from the fact that the hero is Muslim. The reviewer said they weren't sure that Cheadle wasn't worshipping the God Christian's worship in the movie, and the last line gives enough room to question, but everything else in the movie, including what the main character says all the way through would lead you to believe otherwise. I'm glad the overall theme was good, but I wouldn't watch this again, and I couldn't recommend this to friends, and if I'd realized I'd disagree with the reviewer on the hero's faith I wouldn't have watched this at all. It's too bad, because there was a lot that could have been enjoyed about this movie. I just needed to tell the truth about what I walked away with from this one, a semi-assault on my faith, and I wanted to warn others.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jennifer, age 29 (USA)
Negative—As I understand the Bible, this is a blatant attempt to legitimize Isalm. I do not know the background of the person that wrote this review, however, my walk the the LORD JESUS does not equate with this reviewer. Ishmael was not the chosen lineage of the God of Abraham, he is the lineage to Islam. And to witness what Islam is doing to the Jews in Israel, Ahmadinejad who states Israel is to be wiped from the face of the Earth, it is an insult to my faith as a Christian to have this movie portray Islam as a peaceful “religion.” Even though an attempt to portray the main character as an upstanding Muslim, the over riding theme is islam is a terror religion. The followers of Islam that are not in jihad have not awoken to what they are called to do: Kill the infidel (Jews and Christians). I do pray for you and the muslims that they may come to Christ, the I AM !
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim, age 61 (USA)
Negative—I was excited to see this film, becuase I love thrillers and action movies. Let me start out by saying this movie was “not” a very well acted film, with the “overall” message being that Islam is “ok.” As Christians, we should not support Islam and should not view this movie as merely being “ok.” They could have changed the movie, and it would have been alright without the Islamic propaganda throughout and the (ahem) “not so well” acting. There was no sex in the movie, which is a plus. And the normal amount of “swearing” for this rating. But, overall, I would not want to see this movie again, and advise Christians not to see it becuase it is one step towards compromising with Islam and another step back from Christianity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Whitley, age 20 (USA)
Comments from young people

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