Love cheat academic Perry Makepeace (Ewan MacGregor) takes his attractive barrister girlfriend Gail Perkins (Naomie Harris) away for a romantic break in Marrakech. Already wrong-footed, vulnerable, and cringing at the hotel prices, when Gail opts for an early night, Perry accepts a drink from boisterous Russian fellow guest Dima (Stellan Starsgård). One glass of Château Pétrus, and Perry goes a step further, riding out with Dima and his well-oiled party to an even more decadent affair outside the city. Snorting coke, schmoozing beautiful call girls, Perry is intoxicated by the unfamiliar world. He accepts an invitation to play tennis with Dima the next day, where he and Gail meet Dima's family. While Gail finds reason to mistrust Perry, her maternal instincts are awakened by Dima's family, and particularly a pair of young twins.
But for Dima, and his family, the party is well and truly over. Like his friend before him, whose twins have been orphaned, Dima tells Perry that being Russia's 'number one money launderer' is a death sentence for the whole family. Once his fellow mobsters have no further use for him, their leader The Prince (Grigorly Dobrygin) signals their death with the gift of an antique revolver.
Dima begs Perry to help him by delivering a USB drive to Britain's MI6, and exchanging the information it contains to seek asylum for his family in the UK.
Embattled and marginalised MI6 agent Hector Meredith (Damien Lewis) needs more. He draws Perry and Gail into the world of international espionage and a deadly chase through glittering European cities and the spectacular French Alps. At the heart of wrong-doing is the City of London, with dirty money flowing into British pockets.
Director Susanna White maintains all the elements of a successful thriller with a skilled hand, aided by Anthony Dod Mantle's superb cinematography. Le Carre's muddying and inverting the concept of honour is timely and challenging. While cynicism and villainy are skewered adroitly, the more nebulous quality of home was occasionally out of key with the genre, verging on sentimentality. But then again, I've never fled Russian mobsters, who - with one hand holding a coat out to me in the snow - aims the other at my back.