Reviewed by Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child. Visit his website.
Director Anton Corbijn
Writer Andrew Bovell
Cast Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Grigoriy Dobrygin
AGE RESTRICTION: [R]
This is a taught suspense thriller, there’s no blood, no sex, and nothing to make a sailor blush. All good reasons not to take your kids.
Loved it. A suspense spy thriller with guts and grit and not a single laser beam watch or remote controlled BMW in it. Brilliant. A film with character and story at its heart that makes you want it to never stop, right up until it does.
Based on a John Le Carre novel, you might expect to spend quite a lot of time sitting in the movie trying to figure out what’s going on in the film. But, magically, A Most Wanted Man seems to somehow escape this common trap. The story is at once intricate and nuanced, and, simple and driven. It motors along at just the right pace and never left me behind, nor left me bored or disinterested.
It tells the story of Günter Bachmann, the head of a non-existent unit in the German intelligence service dedicated to, mostly illegally, combatting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in Hamburg, Germany. When the unit gets word that Issa Karpov, a Chechen radical, has entered the city looking for a banker named Tommy Brue, they go on the hunt.
What follows is a fascinating tale of cat and mouse intrigue that pulls the audience along like we’re caught on a hook.
Sublime and magnificent. The ensemble cast is lead by the late grand-master Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is exquisite in this film, one of the last of his career. He delivers one of his usual painfully real, painfully delicate, painfully gravitational performances, that is as moving as it is compelling. With seemingly little effort and no help from the narrative we find ourselves placed into the hands of a character as rounded and real, as deep and layered, and as seductive and mesmerising as one of our best friends. When he finally lets us go, in the last moment of the last scene of the film, it’s like watching your best mate immigrate to another country.
Beside him and around him in the film are arrayed as fabulous a company as one could ask for. There are big names like Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe, as well as plethora of relative unknowns, at least to a Hollywood-centric audience. Each delivers a delicate and nuanced performance, that together, perfectly populate the film’s world and narrative.
This is only the second film I’ve seen by director Anton Corbijn. But, like the first, it’s going to be a favourite that I’ll watch over and over again. The other film is The American, with George Clooney. And like The American, A Most Wanted Man is exquisitely crafted and delicately paced. It rests at it heart on character and story and achieves it’s taughtness and tension though the motivations and machinations of it’s protagonists, rather than the all-too-common opposite we find in many, if not most, films of the genre.
See it. It’s great.