Traitor (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byJeffrey Nachmanoff
Produced byDon Cheadle
David Hoberman
Todd Lieberman
Jeff Silver
Ashok Amritraj
Arlene Gibbs
Kay Lieberman
Steve Martin
Richard Schlesinger
Screenplay byJeffrey Nachmanoff
Story bySteve Martin
Jeffrey Nachmanoff
StarringDon Cheadle
Guy Pearce
Said Taghmaoui
Neal McDonough
Alyy Khan
Jeff Daniels
Music byMark Kilian
CinematographyJ. Michael Muro
Edited byBilly Fox
Distributed byOverture Films (US)
Paramount Pictures (Australia/Netherlands/France)
Release date
August 27, 2008
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million
Box office$27,640,957[1]

Traitor is a 2008 American spy thriller film, based on an idea by Steve Martin who is also an executive producer. It is written and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. In the film, a Sudanese-American former US soldier (Don Cheadle) with a background in explosives is the prime suspect in a search by an FBI Special Agent (Guy Pearce), for the bomb-maker in a string of global terror explosions aimed at civilians.


Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) is an Arabic-speaking Sudanese-American and devout Muslim. His Sudanese father was killed by a car bomb when he was a child. As an adult, Samir is first seen operating as an arms dealer. While negotiating a deal with Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui) in Yemen he is arrested and thrown into a Yemeni jail. Later, Samir and Omar become friends, and when Omar's people arrange an escape, they take Samir with them. They meet Fareed (Alyy Khan), a lieutenant in the al-Nathir terrorist organization. FBI Special Agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) suspects Samir has been radicalized and begins tracking him.

Joining al-Nathir, Samir uses the skills he learned as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant with the U.S. Army Special Forces to bomb the U.S. consulate in Nice, France. It is revealed that Samir is working under deep cover for a US intelligence contractor, Carter (Jeff Daniels); Samir is devastated when he learns that despite Carter's covert efforts, innocent people perished in the consulate bombing.

Impressed with Samir, Fareed introduces him to leader Nathir, who discloses a plot to place suicide bombers on 50 buses in the U.S. during Thanksgiving and instructs Samir to act as liaison to each of the al-Nathir sleeper bombers. Later, Carter unwittingly interrupts a meeting between Samir and Omar, and is killed by Omar.

Samir reveals his deep cover to Agent Clayton, who tracks him to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. While investigating, Clayton also discovers the deaths on Niza minus one were fake. While on board a cargo ship to Marseille, France, Samir kills Nathir and Fareed, and tells an enraged Omar that by targeting innocents they betrayed Islam. Samir then tells Omar that he switched the bombers' emails and placed them all on the same bus, so all of them died without victims (except for the driver of the one bus). The Canadian police and the FBI break in, kill Omar, and injure Samir.

Later, underneath the el in Chicago, Samir tells Agent Clayton he feels guilty for killing innocent people, and that the Qur'an says that to kill an innocent person is to kill all mankind. Clayton responds by noting that the Qur'an also says that by saving an innocent person, he has saved all mankind, tells Samir he is a hero, and assures him of a possible career with the FBI.



The project had been in development since 2002 and was originally set to be produced by Walt Disney Pictures (through Touchstone Pictures), but was dropped owing to management change. It was picked up by Overture Films. Principal photography started in early September, 2007, in Toronto, Marseille, and Marrakesh.[2]


Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% of critics gave positive reviews based on 166 reviews,[3] with the summary, "Despite another reliable performance from Don Cheadle, Traitor suffers from too many cliches and an unfocused narrative." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a 60/100 approval rating based on 29 reviews.[4]

Cheadle's performance was praised. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four and wrote in his review, "The movie proceeds quickly, seems to know its subject matter, is fascinating in its portrait of the inner politics and structure of the terrorist group, and comes uncomfortably close to reality. But what holds it together is the Cheadle character."[5]

Box office[edit]

The film opened #5 with $7 million on its opening weekend.[6] As of November 23, the film has grossed $23.5 million in Canada and the United States, and $2.2 million in other markets, including $800,000 in Australia, for a total $27.6 million worldwide.[1]

Related films[edit]

Anwar, a 2010 Malayalam Indian film, is an uncredited remake of Traitor.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Traitor (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
  2. ^ Kit, Boris (July 11, 2007). "Cheadle, Pearce go undercover". The Hollywood Reporter: 1, 18. ISSN 0018-3660. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  3. ^ "Traitor Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2014-01-20. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
  4. ^ "Traitor (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  5. ^ "Roger Ebert Review". The Chicago Sun-Times. 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from 8/29 to 8/31". Box Office Mojo. 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  7. ^ "Anwar". CineBuzz. Archived from the original on 28 October 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.

External links[edit]