Anton Corbijn, Thriller, 122 mins, Oct 17 Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright
The late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman is at his best in A Most Wanted Man, but it is by no means the best Hoffman movie. Hoffman plays Gunther Bachmann, a German intelligence agent who is cursed with invariably being the most intelligent man in any given room, while bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Hoffman plays him perfectly, smugly smart and weary of buffoons who either interfere in his business or have the gall to actually disagree with him.
Bachmann, for the most part, sees these people as obstacles in his way, but the viewer is shown a very broad supporting cast, all of which are weaved into a narrative which is complex, but that never seems convoluted or difficult to follow. Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe both give one of their best performances yet, while Robin Wright is amazing as Martha Sullivan, an American flown in from the Berlin Embassy to oversee the proceedings.
The film is a tense, slow burner which puts forward two very convincing cases. On one hand, we have those wanting to bring a potentially dangerous man into custody, while on the other, Bachmann pushes for more time to allow more information to come about. Intelligence is his currency and he is always looking to increase his capital.
For the most part, the film does an excellent job of drawing the viewer into this highly realistic storyline; but there are flaws. Most notable and jarring are the scenes in which “German” characters talk to one another in accented English. Scenes in which American characters are present obviously ring true, but for a film striving for realism, it does seem odd that English is ever present. Those looking for the action of Bourne will also be left wanting, but this is a thought-provoking testament to the lost talent of Hoffman.