TRADERS (Ireland/16/90mins)
Directed by Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy. Starring Killian Scott, John Bradley, Peter O’Meara, Nika McGuigan, Barry Keoghan, Tom Davis, Olwen Fouere, Laurence Kinlan, David McSavage.
THE PLOT: Having recently been let go from their high-paying jobs, three ex-co-workers quickly become two after a swift econicide drive straight into a tree, laving Harry Fox (Scott) and Vernon Stynes (Bradley) more than a little shaken. And desperate.
For numbers whizz Vernon, one of his new money-making schemes piques the increasingly desperate Harry’s ear – an online site, Traders, where you anonymously stake money for a low-budget gladiator battle in a remote spot. Once you’ve both dug the grave first, of course.
THE VERDICT: A movie that’s so very nearly brilliant, ‘Traders’ is one of those rather cool high-concept outings that give the likes of Quentin Tarantino a major hard-on.
Only trouble is, this hard-on doesn’t quite sustain its 90-minute duration, with the odd clang of untruth gradually drowning out that early solid groove.
Not that you can fault the cast, Scott playing to his Paddy Wahlberg strengths, and ‘Game Of Thrones’’ John Bradley (you’ll know him as Samwell Tarly) utilising his trademark pubescent Oliver Hardy sensitivity. It’s just that, the rush of ‘Fight Club’ or ‘Battle Royale’ is absent, and Moriarty and Murphy (who have worked together for 20 years) don’t quite have the chops to go all Haneke on our heads either.
What you’re left with is an intriguing, well-crafted Kafkaesque fable that satisfies without ever delivering that crucial killer punch.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Traders
Review by Paul Byrne
3.0Almost brilliant
  • filmbuff2011

    Traders is a morally ambiguous Irish film about the cost of human life and what pushes people to their limits for a bit of money. As Marge Gunderson in Fargo would say though, there’s more to life than a little money, you know.

    Harry (Killian Scott) is a Dubliner whose company has just lost billions. Finding himself out of a job along with colleague and friend Vernon (John Bradley), he takes up a dead-end data entry job in a new company. He has his sights set on higher goals though – getting the job of his new boss. Vernon approaches him with a business idea. Vernon has set up a website where tough nuts ‘trade’ i.e. they put up the cash, meet up at a remote location and hold brutal fights to the death. The winner buries the loser and takes his money. A fumbled initial attempt at trading between Harry and Vernon puts some distance between them. They know each other too well. Trading should be with complete strangers. While Vernon recovers from his wounds, Harry sets up some trades, starts killing and then makes a killing. Does he know when to stop though?

    The directorial debut of Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy, Traders is one of those Irish films that is trying to be edgy and cool. It wants to be the Irish Fight Club or Snatch, but instead it ends up being a disappointing clone. Part of the problem is down to a story that just doesn’t stand up to being credible. Moriarty and Murphy’s script is laced with a nihilistic tone, where people don’t care much about their lives and will do anything, including losing their family, for a bit of money. It’s the complete opposite of Anomalisa, which will restore your faith in humanity. Traders will demolish it.

    It’s a pretty bleak, grim crime story with no real identifiable characters. That makes it hard to get on their side and want them to succeed (at life, not killing). It does have some merits though. Scott and Bradley give good performances, with Scott not holding back when it comes to plunging a knife deep into someone’s stomach at unexpected moments. You also have to admire Moriarty and Murphy for not holding back on the blood and going as tough as they can. However, this reviewer can’t shake off the bad taste that Traders left in his mouth. You would be better off skipping it and checking out a far better Irish film, Sing Street, which opens next week. **

  • emerb

    “Traders” is a black comedy / thriller / part horror film set in Ireland and it’s the first Irish movie that I’ve seen which tackles the theme of the aftermath of the economic recession. It manages to pull it off successfully, albeit with a large amount of graphic violence, envy, greed and double-crosses.

    “Traders” focusses on two very different lead characters. Killian Scott plays Harry Fox, a credit-rich man who likes living the high life in his snazzy top-floor apartment in the city centre. Suddenly, his lavish, consumer lifestyle comes under threat when the company he works for goes under. After learning that their boss has committed suicide, his colleague Vernon Styles (John Bradley) approaches Harry with a unique business idea. – “Trading”. This is an internet-based, get-rich-quick scheme which has the potential to earn players seriously
    large sums of money. A brutal method of helping people who find themselves
    facing financial woes, it involves two consenting adults turning up at a secluded spot, each carrying an agreed amount of money in a green bag. A fight to the death ensues and the winner doubles his money by walking away with all the cash, burying his opponent in a hole which has been dug by them both and moves on to his next trade – sounds pleasant eh? Initially reluctant, Harry finds his financial situation becoming ever more precarious and eventually he succumbs to the game. While Vernon isn’t particularly skilled, Harry becomes a very accomplished “Trader” and soon the cash is rolling in. Not too happy with this, Vernon resorts to working outside the rules to get ahead and things start to turn very nasty indeed.

    The acting is solid, Scott and Bradley are in fine form and play well against each other but you would have to give the film to Scott. He’s a captivating leading man, appears in almost every scene and holds our attention throughout. A host of other Love/Hate characters appear, Laurence Kinlan (Elmo), Peter O’Meara (Andrew the dentist), Caoilfhionn Dunne (hitwoman Lizzie) and Barry Keoghan (her apprentice, Wayne) in supporting roles and you can’t fault any of the performances. The chemistry between Scott and Bradley is great and you find yourself wavering as to whose character is actually worse.

    Despite a very limited budget, this is a very clever idea for a plot and writer-directors Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy should be commended for bringing originality and sharpness to this film. It makes good use of Irish locations and the cast give it their all. However, it’s definitely not a film for everyone and I can’t
    see it having a far-reaching appeal – the idea of two ordinary people fighting to the death over a sum of money seems a bit ludicrous, the violence can be very visceral and gratuitous and as the plot unfolds, it all becomes too repetitive. I thought more should have been done to develop the love triangle between Harry, Vernon and Vernon’s neighbour Orla (McGuigan), this would have given us an interesting diversion from the endless “trades”. This romantic subplot just felt underdeveloped and was left hanging at the end. Despite these criticisms, the directors do an excellent job with a plot that keeps us guessing until the end. It’s worth watching and despite the horrific premise of the game , dare I say, you might even find that you enjoy it!