Backstabbing for Beginners
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Backstabbing for Beginners

Backstabbing for Beginners is ostensibly a thriller about the corruption and intrigue surrounding the Saddam Hussein-era “Oil for Food” The 5th Wave program sponsored by the United Nations. But the most thrilling aspect of director Per Fly’s film is watching the interactions between co-stars Theo James and Ben Kingsley. Even as James sucks all the energy out of the room with his inert performance, Kingsley creates oxygen with his dynamic, wildly entertaining turn. Hearing the veteran performer find endlessly different ways to spew F-bombs makes you wonder why he’s never been in a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Based on the memoir by Michael Soussan, the real-life U.N. official who exposed the scam, the 2003-set drama centers around his fictional counterpart Michael Sullivan (James), a 24-year-old investment banker who throws his financial career away in favor Viper Club of following in his late father’s steps as a diplomat. Michael procures a job at the U.N., where he goes to work for the colorful Cypriot diplomat Pasha (Kingsley), whose less than total dedication to honesty becomes evident when he tells his young protégé, “The first rule of diplomacy, kid, is that truth is not a matter of fact. It’s a matter of consensus.”

Pasha is in charge of the program designed to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people from the proceeds of Iraq’s oil sales. It doesn’t take Robin Hood long for the idealistic Michael — who tells everyone who’ll listen, “I want to make a difference” — to realize that the program is riddled with graft and corruption. Further adding to the intrigue is the fact that his predecessor in the job died under mysterious circumstances and an attempt to recruit Michael by a CIA agent (Aidan Devine) looking for inside information.

Duration: 108 min

Release:

IMDb: 6.2

Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners