A Most Wanted Man


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man
"The end result may look good but it never feels distinctive despite the wealth of talent involved in front of and behind the camera."

With the film's sharp lines and pools of light, photographer-turned-director Anton Corbijn's eye for a good looking angle is never in doubt in his adaptation of John le Carré - and the plot certainly works them as well. But with twists that become meanderings, characters who settle into the back seat and an ending that you won't need binoculars to spot from a distance, this spy thriller doesn't quite grip as it should.

None of which is the fault of Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose perma-smoking, crumpled German intelligence officer Günther Bachmann lies at the heart of the action. Jaded and faded, he goes through the motions in post 9/11 Hamburg through habit as much as drive. In a classic use the small fry to catch the big guy story, he is hoping that a newly arrived Chechen-Russian Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) - an apparently devout Muslim who is looking to get his hands on a lot of money from his dead father's bank account - will help him snare a humanitarian Dr Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), whom Günther is convinced is using a philanthropic front to syphon off cash for terrorism.

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Unwittingly, a human rights lawyer (Rachel McAdams) and the head of the bank Tommy Brue (Willem 'there is no accounting for that accent' Dafoe) also find themselves caught in the web as Günther tries to negotiate the jungle of inter-agency co-operation and catch his quarry before it's too late.

When Tomas Alfredson tackled le Carré in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the moodiness sank beneath your skin, as the characters' emotional landscapes were gradually revealed. Here, though a damp melancholy is present in Andrew Bovell's adaptation, the surface of everyone but Günther remains like Teflon, impervious to scrutiny, while well-known actors such as Daniel Brühl are used as little more than set dressing. The end result may look good but it never feels distinctive despite the wealth of talent involved in front of and behind the camera.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2014
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A Most Wanted Man packshot
Thriller about the war on terror.
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Director: Anton Corbijn

Writer: Andrew Bovell, based on the novel by John le Carré

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, Nina Hoss, Martin Wuttke, Rainer Bock, Kostja Ullmann, Homayoun Ershadi, Mehdi Dehbi, Vicky Krieps, Charlotte Schwab, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Derya Alabora

Year: 2014

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US, Germany

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