Traitor Caps Righteous Kill

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Recently, I read a blog post in which the blogger says something to the effect that this summer has been the best summer for movies in a long time. I’m not sure what multiplex this person attends, but I have to disagree with him, and it may be a case of my being much more picky as to what movies I spend my time and money on these days. This summer has found me renting or watching from my own collection more often than I’ve gone to the theater.

There have been exceptions, of course. Recently, Traitor was my movie of choice, and it was a good one. Starring Don Cheadle (who is genius on the screen, as far as I’m concerned), the movie examines the gray areas of today’s world, and proves once again that we can no longer look at events or our world in black and white.

Samir Horn (Cheadle) is on the FBI’s radar, as by-the-book Agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) looks into increasing terrorist activities. As Clayton and his partner Max Archer (Neal McDonough) close in, Horn becomes more involved with a terrorist cell, and the entire time, there are reactions and meetings that have the audience wondering what’s really going on. Is it Horn? Or the FBI agents? Or the people Horn works with?

In a delicate balance, director Jeffrey Nachmanoff (who wrote the screenplay from a story he co-wrote with Steve Martin; yes, that Steve Martin) goes from Clayton’s relentless hunt for the truth to Horn’s inexplicable dive into terrorism, and back, and the result keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Nothing is what it seems.

Traitor is an excellent example of how isolated we’ve become, and reinforces the need for communication, education and open minds.

Unfortunately, I can’t be as complimentary about Righteous Kill, starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Despite the great cast, this cop flick falls short of expectations. I was sorely disappointed.

DeNiro and Pacino are great, but the story lets them down. Portraying long-time NYPD partners, the two are caught in a tangle of serial killings. From the opening scene, we think we know who the killer is, although there are definite clues along the way that point in another direction. Perhaps there were too many clues, because I figured it out about halfway through. Not a surprise ending, folks. It was, however, great to see DeNiro and Pacino together. That, in itself, is a reason to see the movie – but rent it.

From summer viewing, I would recommend the documentary Young@Heart, indie darling The Visitor, the animated WALL-E, the Batman sequel The Dark Knight, an election-year-must-see Swing Vote, and, of course, Hellboy II and Mamma Mia.

Future offerings appear to be much more appealing to my tastes. Recent trailers have me anticipating Appaloosa, with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortenson; Max Payne with Mark Wahlberg; Defiance, starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber and Jamie Bell; Rachel Getting Married, an indie starring Anne Hathaway; Miracle at St. Anna, with Derek Luke; Nights in Rodanthe, with Richard Gere and Diane Lane; Changeling, with Angelina Jolie; and Twilight, the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novel. And I definitely will not miss The Day the Earth Stood Still.

See ya at the movies!