Written by Andrew Bovell, A Most Wanted Man is the new film directed by Anton Corbijn (2010′s The American), based off the novel of the same name by John le Carré.  The film follows German espionage agent Günther Bachman (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) as he investigates a Chechen immigrant suspected for terrorism.  Fighting for the immigrant to get him proper asylum and financial inheritance, is Annabel Richter (Rachael McAdams), a lawyer who fights for immigrants escaping their former countries seeking asylum.  Bachman and the other members of his small German intelligence agency are looking into the immigrant Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) for terrorist funding.  They know Issa is not the big fish, but hope to eventually use him to climb up the the Islamic terrorist hierarchy.  Every step of the way their are problems that arise, with the worst being the American Intelligence wanting to take measures into their own hands.

A Most Wanted Man is a slow-burning spy-thriller, that takes some time to fully grab your attention.  After the first 15 minutes or so, I was fully into the film and it’s characters.  The film is not your typical espionage thriller, and it features no gun-fights or any action scene for that matter.  It decided to try and remain as true to the story and characters as possible, with the plot unfolding with the grit and reality to make make your stomach turn.

The lines of who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy” are blurred throughout.  One thing I can truly appreciate about the film is that it shows just how messed up espionage and intelligence agencies can be.  Torture, masked kidnapping, lying, are all in the name of the game, and what the movie shows is, you can’t blame any one side.  This idea of no clear “bad guy” to root against doesn’t work for a superhero movie for example, but for this blend of espionage, it works to perfection.  Everyone involved seemingly is trying to do the right thing and make the world a safer place, but their actions often showed otherwise.  This was all done subtly, never feeling like their was added drama to make the movie something it wasn’t.  There are no Bond’s or Jason Bourne’s here (not that I don’t love those type of action movies), it just felt genuinely real.

The subtly of the movie and overall plot is carried by the performance of the actors.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman showed why he was one of the greatest actors of his generation, given a terrific subtle performance.  You could feel the pain of Günther Bachman as he struggles with the task and job he has dedicated his live to, just by Hoffman’s expression and mannerisms.  Rachael McAdams was also terrific, as she was forced to go through the full spectrum of emotions.  Along with these fantastic performances, the movies aesthetics were rich in detail, and always interesting to watch.

For a self described slow-burn, A Most Wanted Man has a lot going on.  Sure it may have been slow in parts, but the story, performances, and detailed and interesting sets make the movie genuinely both intriguing and realistic.  In one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances, we are reminded of the incredible talent the filmmaking world lost, which makes A Most Wanted Man that much more of an opportunity to see a unbelievable actor doing what he loved to do.

Directed by Anton Corbijn and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachael McAdams, William Dafoe, and Robin Wright, A Most Wanted Man has a runtime of 121 minutes and is now playing in select theaters nationwide.

About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.