UK Release Date: 12th September 2014
Runtime: 122 minutes
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Andrew Bovell
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Daniel Brühl
Synopsis: A German spy uses a known terrorist to get inside information about a huge conspiracy to launder money for a terrorist organisation.
The work of crime novelist John Le Carré has a regular home on the big screen. As recently as 2011, an adaptation of his 1970s work Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy earned its star Gary Oldman an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The latest Le Carré adaptation, A Most Wanted Man, is a chilly thriller featuring one of the last screen performances from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) is the head of an incognito espionage unit working in Hamburg, Germany. When a Chechen immigrant and known terrorist, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), enters the country and connects with lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), Bachmann declines to move against him. Soon, a wealthy banker (Willem Dafoe) becomes involved and the web of conspiracy becomes increasingly intricate.
A Most Wanted Man really hinges on the strong performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. He always brought impressive physicality to his roles and, here, his imposing frame fills the screen. He communicates mainly in solemn asides and facial expressions, but his performance is the bleak centre of the entire film. It’s a fitting tribute to a man whose subtlety was his defining feature.
| "Have you ever seen blood on the street?"
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only good thing about A Most Wanted Man. The film is a chilly, dour thriller that replaces the rollicking thrills of the genre with quiet, uninteresting conversations held by characters speaking with unconvincing German accents.
Like the lauded, but unappealing, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, this Le Carré adaptation is about the discussions between shootouts rather than the shootouts themselves. It takes a talented cast, a top-notch script and a great director to make that work. A Most Wanted Man only ticks the box marked cast, with both script and director inducing yawns rather than thrills.
Although, that cast are not firing on all cylinders here. Rachel McAdams has major accent trouble, Daniel Brühl is woefully underused and Grigoriy Dobrygin spends far too much of the film looking at his shoes.
| "Our sources don’t come to us. We find them."
Despite its solid cast, A Most Wanted Man is remarkably boring. There’s little to chew on in the surprise-free script and the direction completely lacks invention. A good thriller should really make its audience want to know how it all pans out, but this one just makes its audience yearn for the credits to roll
Pop or Poop?
Sacrificing thrills for chats in smoky rooms, A Most Wanted Man is an underwhelming adaptation.
It’s almost worth seeing for a strong showing from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, but the rest of the cast are limp and there’s little excitement to be had.
This spy should never have come in from the cold.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.