Last night I watched Traitor with a few friends. I think it’s probably the best movie yet made about the “War on Terror”, and I recommend it. It’s a small cast, tightly focused around the protagonist Samir, played by Don Cheadle. Samir is a highly skilled guru in explosives, as well as a bit of electrical engineering and computer science, who works as part of an international team of criminals.
This part made me wonder where I’d seen Don Cheadle before, and why this all seemed so familiar. Eventually I figured it out. Cheadle played Basher Tarr in Ocean’s Eleven. Basher is … a highly skilled guru in explosives, as well as a bit of electrical engineering and computer science, who works as part of an international team of criminals. The characters are in fact quite different as a matter of personality, role, even accent, but the parallel is striking.
This reminded me of another similar case. Brian Cox, in the Bourne Identity, played Ward Abbott, a US military official who worked on an ultra-clandestine project to create a new breed of super-soldiers using medical high technology of questionable ethics, the details of which are never exactly made clear. Unfortunately, the process also creates a susceptibility to amnesia, and the soldier he created (Jason Bourne) loses all memory of the project. As a result, Bourne spends most of the film trying to determine how he was created and, upon discovering Abbott and his project, turns against him, and attempts to kill the officials responsible for the project.
Brian Cox (the same actor) also played William Stryker in X-Men 2. Stryker is… you know what? I’m not going to repeat it. It’s exactly the whole above paragraph, only with Wolverine instead of Bourne. Yes yes, I’m sure we can trace it all back to Shelley’s Frankenstein, but still…
It makes me wonder how casting works in Hollywood. It occurs to me that I actually have a friend who’s worked in casting; I should run this by her.