A Most Wanted Man, 2014.
Directed by Anton Corbijn.
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Derya Alabora and Nina Hoss.
A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror.
With this release Corbijn has once again proven himself to be a director with no small amount of style. Ever since his feature debut with 2007’s powerful and understated Ian Curtis biopic Control, the Dutch photographer and music video director has brought a tremendous amount of fluidity and depth of style to his body of work. This, a measured and considered adaptation of John Le Carre’s 2008 stirring liberal response to the ongoing – and currently escalating – war on terror is a fascinating and artful take on the spy movie genre.
Similarities can and have been drawn between this terrifically moving piece and another recent Le Carre adaptation the more classically tuned-up Tomas Alfredson movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy from 2009. But while that film and story was looking back at a world of tension, misunderstanding and political confusion, this film is an examination of the present and the future…
Focusing on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final role before his still incredibly sad untimely death, the story follows his Hamburg based spycatcher Günther Bachmann as he sets out to entrap a recently arrived immigrant who has set in motion a whole series of potentially world-shattering events…
This ‘wanted man’ – played with solemn profundity by Dobyrygin – pulls in widely disparate groups led by Hoffman, the CIA chief Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) and a big-time banker eager to set everyone off against each other (Willem Defoe) An artful moral ambiguity of the piece sets out to ask decidedly tricky questions of its audience and the subtle shifts in character’s loyalties and perceptions brings out the complexities of political judgements in style.
These political, security and economic bigwigs are finely contrasted with the asylum aid charity worker played with tremendous sympathy by Rachel McAdams. Excellent support is also provided by Nina Hoss and Daniel Brühl as Bachmann’s leading members of support staff. The witty interplay between him and Hoss is particularly exact and memorable.
Corbijn’s rich palette of colours and steady handling of the plot’s twists and turns provide a superb platform for the gifted cast to show off their full range of talents. Ultimately the film belongs to Hoffmann who, for a final time, has shown us what a spell biding performer he truly was.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.