Film Review: A MOST WANTED MAN
Starring the late prolific and favored actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, A MOST WANTED MAN is a contemporary spy thriller based on the best-selling 2008 book of the same name by John le Carré. Unlike the last film based on a Le Carré novel, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, it is a well-paced and exciting espionage tale with an enjoyable two hour running time.
As always, Philip Seymour Hoffman delivered a great performance in the lead role of his last completed film, A MOST WANTED MAN. Hoffman plays Gunther Bachman, a hard-drinking, chain-smoking and lonely team leader of a secret anti-terrorism unit based in Hamburg, Germany. Unlike his bureaucratic and overzealous counterpart, Dieter Mohr (Rainer Bock), the head of the Germany’s domestic intelligence service, he is cautious and mindful as he is diligent in amassing information that can prevent the execution of a planned terrorist attack.
Bachman finds the heavy-handed Mohr a detestable nuisance with a competitive dash to place the “terrorist” label and make arrests. Also, appearing more like an enemy is the Germany-based CIA agent, Martha Sullivan, (Robin Wright). Bachman’s extreme distrust and reluctance to share intel with the US spy stems from a past joint mission debacle which exposed his previous team, hence their demise.
Bachman is as nurturing and protective and of his team as he is of his prized asset, a college student and only son of a prominent Muslim charity fund-raiser, Dr. Faisal Abdullah.
He and his team are currently tracking the movements of a heavily-bearded, Islamic Chechen man, who suspiciously arrived in Hamburg from Turkey without any identification. The reticent young man is discovered to be Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a recently release prisoner, and the surviving son of a wealthy Russian war criminal.
Issa retains the aid of a beautiful, do-gooder human rights lawyer, Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams). When she connects him with the banker (Willem Dafoe), whose institution holds his late fathers secret account of millions in ill-gotten gains, Issa becomes more nefarious suspect. Yet, the prudent Bachman withholds his rush to judgment.
A MOST WANTED MAN was directed by Dutch filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control, The American). On working with Philip Seymour Hoffman: “Despite any issues he was dealing with outside of the film, domestic or otherwise, the performance never suffered.”
“I’m not sure where to start when looking at Philip’s legacy as it is overwhelming in its scope and depth. But that immediately tells you a lot about his choices. He was the best character actor I can think of, and if you look at just the smaller roles he occupied, then those performances alone set him apart from his contemporaries. His strength was a total immersion in the role and a lack of vanity. At the same time, he hated what he loved, that was his curse – he would tear himself to pieces over his performances”.
“He was a giant of a man in every way imaginable and his demise is not only a tremendous loss to the world at large and to lovers of great art, but very much on a human level. He was 200% human, with all the struggles and flaws that came with this – and that is where that great art came from, I like to think”.-‐Anton Corbijn, THE GUARDIAN