As I exited the screening of Traitor, the terrorism thriller starring Don Cheadle that opens on Wednesday, I noticed something odd in the closing credits: story by Steve Martin and Jeffrey Nachmanoff. The second guy is the film's director. But that first guy ... Steve Martin? The Steve Martin?

I knew the one-time Wild and Crazy Guy was a renaissance man. In fact, lately I've enjoyed his writing, which is clever, nuanced, and intelligent, more than I've enjoyed most of his movies. He apparently is not as selective about his film projects as he is about his writing. His novella The Pleasure of My Company is one of my favorite recent books, and Shopgirl (which was made into a film) is another surprisingly emotional gem.

But a terrorism thriller about Muslim extremists and FBI investigations? Even with the understanding that "typical Steve Martin" territory extends much further than the casual fan might realize, this was not typical Steve Martin territory. Checking out the film's website, I found this explanation:

"Traitor began its journey to the big screen when Steve Martin presented an intriguing idea to producer David Hoberman while they were working together on the blockbuster comedy Bringing Down the House. Martin's "what if?" scenario immediately captured Hoberman's imagination with its provocative contemporary themes and surprising final twist."

The production notes go on to describe Nachmanoff and Don Cheadle doing a lot of reworking of Nachmanoff's script, which had been based on Martin's original concept, so I don't know how much of Martin's idea is in the finished product. (He's also credited as an executive producer.) But either way, as a huge fan of Martin's, it's always exciting to see him do something new. It's also nice to know that something positive came out of Bringing Down the House.