Poetry professor Perry Makepeace (Ewan McGregor) is not a happy man. He’s on holiday in Morocco with his wife, Gail (Naomie Harris), but whatever problems its meant to solve run pretty deep. So when she storms off during dinner, he ends up befriending the hard-partying Dima (Stellan Skarsgård), who turns out to be a top money launderer for the Russian mob.
But not for long: Dima’s crime family has a new boss who’s murdering his money launderers to keep a big deal quiet, which is why Dima wants Perry to contact MI6 when he returns to London and let them know Dina’s ready to talk. Perry thinks he’s done when MI6 agent Hector (Damien Lewis) arrives on the scene; Hector thinks Perry still has a major role to play.
Director Susanna White’s adaptation of John LeCarre’s 2010 novel strips his tale of global corruption and money-laundering down to a fairly straightforward spy thriller about a man in way over his head. She tells the story with style and flair, wringing maximum tension out of some fairly predictable scenarios. A great cast helps, with Skarsgard’s gruff bearish mobster and Lewis’ snooty but seething agent standing out, while McGregor provides a solid anchor as the bland everyman.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris