“Terrorism is a dubious subject for entertainment,” said Philip Kennicott in The Washington Post. And even the presence of star Don Cheadle can’t turn the new film “Traitor” into a satisfying movie experience. A film about terrorism reinforces prejudices by mining our fears of Muslims hiding in sleeper cells, and the “excesses of fear” that inspires “are corrosive to society.”
“Traitor” would indeed have been a “flop,” said Sarah Vasques in eFluxMedia, if the writers had “limited themselves to the stereotypes about Muslims.” But Cheadle, as an ex-Special Ops officer with strong Muslim convictions, will make viewers think about our terrorism nightmares and U.S. foreign policy as they wonder whose side he’s really on.
The double life of Cheadle’s character, Samir Horn, is filled with anguish in every scene, said Ron Wynn in the Nashville City Paper. That, rather than the typical “swashbuckling,” is what makes this a thriller worth watching. And that's how the film "raises (and to some degree answers) the question of whether actions taken against evil that cause tragedy and suffering to the innocent are justified.”
The daring thing about this movie, said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune, is that it avoids demonizing its “jihad-driven characters,” something that is sure to get it skewered as un-American on Hannity and Colmes. That’s what helps the film mess with our sympathies—the question is how much moral ambiguity audiences are prepared to accept.