On holiday in Marrakesh, ordinary couple Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris are caught up in the murky world of Russian dirty money.
McGregor and Harris are trying to repair their fraying marriage, with McGregor’s university lecturer smarting with guilt over an affair with a student and somewhat emasculated by lawyer wife Harris’ higher-earning profession.
He unexpectedly befriends a flamboyantly gregarious, very wealthy, Russian (Stellan Skarsgård) and gets a brief taste of his luxurious existence.
However, he turns out to be a money launderer for the Russian mafia and wants McGregor to pass information to MI6 about his boss’s dealings with leading members of the British establishment.
The leak is a boon for dogged MI6 agent Damian Lewis, who has long had in his sights one of the figures implicated, a high-profile MP.
However, Lewis’ devious superiors are reluctant to grant what Skarsgård requires in return – asylum in Britain for his imperiled family.
The fraught wrangling over this deal draws McGregor and Harris, rather implausibly, into a series of cloak-and-dagger escapades, which take in Paris, Switzerland and the French Alps, as well as London.
Although director Susanna White never fully sells the film’s contrivances, nor McGregor’s transformation from hangdog teacher to man of action, this adaptation of the John le Carré novel is engrossing and provides much to enjoy – including Anthony Dodd Mantle’s sleek cinematography and the beguiling performances of McGregor, Lewis and, above all, Skarsgård, oozing burly charisma throughout.