A Most Wanted Man

"Excellent"

A Most Wanted Man Review


Photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn continues to show striking maturity with only his third movie (after Control and The American). Based on the John Le Carre novel, this thriller avoids cliches to become a brilliantly tense spy drama. It also offers Philip Seymour Hoffman another terrific posthumous performance, one of his best ever, as a quietly tenacious man who refuses to get caught up in the hype.

Set in Hamburg, the story centres on Gunther (Hoffman), the exhausted leader of a top-secret anti-terrorist unit who has gathered around him a loyal team (including Nina Hoss, Daniel Bruhl and Vicky Krieps). When they spot an unknown Chechen in town, they identify him as Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) but aren't sure what he's up to. Gunther thinks that following him is the best course of action, as he may lead them to much bigger fish. And they're further intrigued when he contacts a lawyer (Rachel McAdams) and a powerful banker (Willem Dafoe). But the local police and German security forces want to arrest Issa and interrogate him, even though this will stop Gunther from taking down a potentially much bigger operation, and even though it looks like Issa isn't a terrorist at all. Only a US embassy attache (Robin Wright) shares Gunther's long-game approach, but can they delay the gung-ho cops?

While the central plot slowly cranks up some powerful suspense, it's the dramatic and thematic elements of the film that truly get under the skin, mainly thanks to Hoffman's world-weary performance as a man whose eyes miss nothing. And he's beginning to wish he could just close them and pretend all of this doesn't exist. Every conversation he has sparks with jagged insinuation, driving the entire film deeper as an exploration of the dangers of self-proclaimed "good guys" with too much military power, especially when they're paranoid. This is augmented by several personal layers of plot-threads, including Issa's own compelling mystery, beautifully played by a gifted cast that's great at saying one thing and meaning another.

Through all of this, Corbijn cleverly distracts us with the film's surfaces. The story is set in the present day, but it looks like the 1970s with a browny-yellow colour scheme and Cold War-style sets. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the film continually harks back to the good old days when spying was more straightforward and morality was less murky. It also packs the screen with complex characters and gripping sequences that get pulses racing in ways a more typical car chase or explosive battle can't. Audiences who like their thrills bigger and louder may be bored, but anyone who prefers to engage with a movie's themes and characters will find this movie utterly riveting.



A Most Wanted Man

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st August 2014

Distributed by: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions

Production compaines: Senator Film Produktion, Senator Film, The Ink Factory, Potboiler Productions, Amusement Park Films, Demarest Films, Film4

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 136 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Simon Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell, Gail Egan, Malte Grunert

Starring: as Günther Bachmann, as Annabel Richter, as Martha Sullivan, as Max, as Tommy Brue, Grigoriy Dobrygin as Issa Karpov, Nina Hoss as Erna Frey, Martin Wuttke as The Admiral, Kostja Ullmann as Rasheed, as Dieter Mohr, Vicky Krieps as Niki, as Abdullah, Mehdi Dehbi as Jamal, Neil Malik Abdullah as Abdullah's Bodyguard, Franz Hartwig as Karl, Vedat Erincin as Storekeeper, Derya Alabora as Leyla Oktay, Tamer Yigit as Melik Oktay, René Lay as Sparring Partner, Herbert Grönemeyer as Michael Axelrod, Georg Ebinal as Axelrod's Driver, Bernhard Schütz as Otto Keller, Jessica Joffe as Lotta, Imke Büchel as Frau Elli, Ursina Lardi as Mitzi Brue, Uwe Dag Berlin as Tattooed Man, Corinna Kropiunig as Lonely Dancing Woman, Max Volkert Martens as Otto Burgdorf

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