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New Release Review - TRADERS

After losing his job, a young man enters a violent game known as 'Trading'.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)


Directed by: Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy

Starring: Killian Scott, John Bradley, Peter O'Meara, Nika McGuigan, Barry Keoghan



This is no martial arts flick. The fights are very much of the playground variety - sweaty, out of shape men meeting their demise on a patch of suburban Dublin wasteland. It would be interesting to see what could be achieved with this intriguing premise on a more accommodating budget.



Don't let the title fool you; Traders isn't another Big Short style financial drama, at least not in any conventional sense. Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy's Irish indie thriller is influenced more by Fight Club than Wall Street, and it's an influence it wears on its torn sleeve.
Presumably conceived while Ireland was in the midst of the post-2008 recession, Moriarty and Murphy's feature debut opens with a pair of friends - Harry (Killian Scott) and Vernon (John Bradley) - finding themselves joining the dole queue after losing their high-paying jobs with a Dublin based financial firm. Accustomed to the high-life, Vernon sets up a business venture of his own. 
With a page hidden in the recesses of the dark web, Vernon invents the concept of 'trading', whereby two strangers agree to fight to the death over an equal sum of money, doubling their cash upon victory. When he introduces his concept to Harry, the latter is initially repelled, but with the bank constantly harassing him for payment on his expensive city centre loft apartment, Harry decides to begin the process of trading.
If the basic concept is born of Fight Club, with its commentary on consumer culture and modern men's fear of material emasculation, the meat and potatoes of Traders plays out as though the chief inspiration came from classic video games like Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter. As Harry rises through the ranks of the trading community, he encounters (and kills) a variety of almost cartoonish foes - a nondescript middle-aged man who turns deadly upon producing a massive chain; an intimidating and sexually frank woman; the steely-eyed 'Kicker'. But this is no martial arts flick. The fights are very much of the playground variety; sweaty, out of shape men meeting their demise on a patch of suburban Dublin wasteland.
The limitations of its budget means Traders is a tad rough around its edges. Visually it's unappealing and there's an over-reliance on voiceover narration, while a romantic sub-plot leads nowhere. Its greatest strength is the performances of Scott and Bradley, who manage to earnestly sell what's essentially a ridiculous concept. There's definitely a seed of a great movie here, and it would be interesting to see what could be achieved with this intriguing premise on a more accommodating budget.
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