Film Review – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

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Title – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Director – Anton Corbijn (The American)

Cast – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Daniel Brühl, Rainer Bock

Plot – Illegal immigrant Issa Karpov (Dobrygin) finds himself at the centre of an anti-terrorist investigation led by Günther Bachmann (Hoffman). Issa finds an ally in lawyer Annabel Richter (McAdams) and as motivations become clearer the line between a terrorist and a citizen becomes increasingly blurred.

“Have you ever seen blood on the street?”

Review by Eddie on 01/04/2015

I can’t shake the feeling that if it was not for the sad early passing of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, arthouse filmmaker Anton Corbijn’s low key adaptation of the John Le Carre novel A Most Wanted Man would’ve been a direct to DVD experience as it’s a film that looks to tread similar ground to the great Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but fails to engage on any such level due to a cold overall feel and a story that seems to think a little too much of itself.

I’m not one for finding films overly complicated but sadly A Most Wanted Man seems to be far too many different things, without, in a movie sense mastering any of them. It is certainly a topical film, the ever encompassing threat of terrorism and the fight to control it is a sadly all too common thing in today’s climate yet Corbijn’s film never really strikes an affecting chord. With so many characters, many who barely get to register (Robin Wright’s Martha Sullivan and Rainer Bock are standouts in this respect) the film lacks a clear focus and I personally felt a complete lack of engagement to the story that was supposed to make us feel either sorry, angry or patriotic, I’m not entirely sure. A Most Wanted Man is a film saved by the late Hoffman in what was another solid if unspectacular turn.

Looking worse for wear and clearly not on top of his personal wellbeing, Hoffman has some excellent moments as hard working and dedicated anti-terrorist operative Günther Bachmann. Hoffman may at times struggle with an accent that is over empathised on occasion, yet there is little point arguing the fact that his on screen presence loomed large even when he was not at his finest. Moments that play out during the films much better final act showcase his rare power as an actor, moments that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up at its emotion. Hoffman is the anchor here where other actors such as Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe are ok without making much of mark.

A well filmed movie that seems to revel in its minimalistic movie techniques, where Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy succeeded A Most Wanted Man fails. It’s a privilege to see Hoffman ply his trade in a lead role one final time and the film is sometimes starkly beautiful in a big city type way, yet it’s not enough to save a movie that seemed to be aiming for both the heart and the brain yet failed to register with either. A forgettable movie that was the benefactor of some unfortunate circumstances, A Most Wanted Man is for hard-core Le Carre and Hoffman fans only.

2 charity bank accounts out of 5

 

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16 responses to “Film Review – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

  1. A little slow at times and also a bit disappointing considering we’ve seen way better performances from Hoffman before. At least he’s better than everything else though. Nice review Eddie.

  2. I saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in a class this past fall and hated it but it also was hard trying to follow a movie that we had to keep stopping because class ended. I’ll give it another shot but I was bored out of my mind.

  3. Pingback: A Most Wanted Man (2014) | Tim Neath - Visual Artist·

  4. Pingback: Film Review – Our Kind of Traitor (2016) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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