Film Review: A Most Wanted Man (Anton Cobijn, 2014) ★★★

When an impoverished Islamic refugee (Grigoriy Dobrygin) washes up in post-9/11 Hamburg, holding a key to a fortune, he becomes a pawn in the centre of a power struggle involving a German spy (Hoffman), a banker (Defoe) and a lawyer (McAdams) only to give they are all part of a much bigger game as a US agent (Wright) stirs the pot.

Based on the novel by the same name by John le Carre, we bid a fond and final farewell to late actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in this dramatic, espionage-thriller.  Hoffman plays Gunther Bachman, a German spy who leads the development of intelligence into the local muslim community following the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001.  Soon the team learn of Karpov's presence in the country from CCTV and, knowing him to be considered a dangerous terrorist, race to track him down in the hopes of preventing money laundering funding one of the world's biggest terrorist organisations. Lawyer, Annabel Richter seeks to help Issa and find him sanctuary and retrieve his  father's inheritance but it is not before long that Gunter recruits her in order to get the informational that could bring the terrorist plot to it's knees.

The opening credits of the film are promising, listed is an encouraging cast and the premise of a artistically shot, fast-paced spy-thriller. Each shot is delicately pieced together, cleverly using space and camera angles to reflect the feelings of its characters. It is not, however, before long that it feels as though the film is more of a one man show, the focus being very heavily on the character of Gunter which makes the story from the novel a subplot. With a cigarette in his mouth and a tumbler of whisky in hand every shot, it feels although something was missing and we learn very little about the man at all. Despite the heavy focus on his character, there is little development of depth surrounding his quirks and seemingly lonely existence. Perhaps to leave us, as an audience, wondering but to no avail. What we do get, is a fantastically haunting, utterly believable and mesmerising performance from Hoffman who shapes the narrative entirely. The rest of the characters, (particularly McAdams who's German accent waverers), are mere sparring partners, including Dafoe who does not appear to be utilised to his full potential. 

All in all, A Most Wanted Man was an interesting glimpse in to the attitudes regarding terrorism in post-9/11 times with a balanced representation of both the government and Muslim communities. It did seem as though with such an edgey theme, it fails to provide the thrill of a thriller. In some areas it feels as though A Most Wanted Man drags and is not executed in the way we are first led to believe the film to go. However, it is saved by the ghostly performance of Hoffman and it's topical ambition which leaves you feeling more numb then shocked. A Most Wanted Man gets a Sophie star rating of 3 stars and a heart warming goodbye to Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman who will return one last time for The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay in November. 

Until next time film fans, 


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