Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Our Kind of Traitor

(UK, 2016)

There’s no one better in the world for spy stories than John le Carré. He is also maybe the luckiest novelist in the world, because well over half of his books have been made into movies, and there is not a bad one in the lot. I’ve seen all but two of them. Several of them are actual masterpieces, such as the Alec Guinness version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

When the Berlin Wall fell and then the Soviet Union (hurray!) I thought he might be out of business. But there is still plenty of skullduggery going on in the world of espionage, it’s just against different opponents. This time it’s the ever-reliable Russian Mafia, those tattooed multi-billionaires who got their start in the gulags and moved in on just about everything when the economy collapsed and everything was up for sale. If they couldn’t buy it, they killed for it. These are the guys, other than Trump, who are in bed with Putin. “Got a problem with someone, Pootie? Is not a problem, boychik! He had an accident, or ate some bad clams!”

The story involves money laundering and international banking, but even a business wuss like me can follow it easily enough. Ewan McGregor is an innocent guy on vacation who is lured into a highly dubious deal involving taking information from a Mafia accountant, William Hurt, to the MI6 in London. The problem is that one of the men the information incriminates is himself high up in the agency. As always in a le Carré story, the suspense builds slowly. If you want car chases and machine guns you’re better off taking in the 167th James Bond silliness.