A Most Wanted Man (2014)


A Most Wanted Man (2014)If there was ever a reason to watch a film or write a review, one of them should be the late great Philip Seymour Hoffmanin his last real dramatic performance. I’m not counting The Hunger Games series as he’s not a lead. In A Most Wanted Man (2014) he assumes the role of German intelligence agent Günther Bachmann the leader of a team of agents that have been held accountable for failing to stop 9/11. So already there is a lot of heavy back-story in place. I thought originally the film was based in the immediate wake of the devastating attack 14 years ago. You’d think in the time that had passed water would have gone under the bridge and the intelligence community could once more trust this German unit who have a friendly Muslim in their sights.

You’d think if they had enough evidence they would be allowed to investigate Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadiand his links to a shipping company. A man who we see little of at the beginning, we catch up with him much later in the film. Instead focusing on a much younger Chechen Muslim who has appeared from Russia seeking asylum. Very early on you can scene there is a feeling of mistrust amongst all concerned agencies who aware of what’s going in Hamburg. Will Bachmann be given the time and space to carry out his investigation. It’s not just the fellow German agencies on his back, the American’s in the form of Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) who wants to support him, yet needs him to open up for the relationship to work. 

All the focus is on the weighed down shoulders of Bachmann who Hoffman is completely, it’s not just his accent but his whole being, except for the very end which can forgive, that little extra touch as the mask falls off for a moment. Trying to get persuade everyone to carry out his plan. To go along with his operation which relies on civilians to carry out task for them.

With the friendly Muslim set-up we leave him to his own devices as we focus our attention on Jamal (Mehdi Dehbi) comes on the scene, making contact with lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) who represents him at a bank where his father has a large amount of money deposited. Making contact with banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe) who is the real key the eventual mission being a success or not. From the trailer it’s a very different and thankfully mis-leading piece of advertising that paints him as a traitor to Bachmann.

Coming from the same writer that gave us Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) which I barely remember, it did have a heavy atmosphere of the cold war, a world where you could trust anyone, even those who you are supposed to rely on for solid and concrete information. This is not the same film in Germany, we have moved on from that world to one where we can’t trust the innocent on the street. A whole religion carries the stigma of a few who carry out terrorist acts, the sense of suspicion has spread further than the underworld of spies.

A meeting of the two world collides here in a country that itself has seen it’s own share of upheaval, brought down to its knees before Fascism which let it be destroyed before it was later decided. Now agencies come together for the war on terror, yet there is still in-fighting amongst the good-guys. As the plan is allowed to come together, trust has been hard won from lawyers and bankers we believe it’s in the bag before the truth comes out to kick Bachmann in the backside once more, one mistake that cannot be forgotten.

For Hoffman’s last leading role in a film you can’t ask for a better one, not that he knew it was his last, you could see he was in his stride of giving his best, from the smaller parts in the nineties to the larger than life characters. Supported by actors who actually deliver decent accents, which is beside the point, theres no messing around from this bunch in this thriller. I think there could have been some lighter moments to ease the tension, its hard to say where they might come. More time could have been spent exploring Jamal who was basically repeating himself, adding very little to the character so you can’t really sympathise with him. All this fades away when you have Philip Seymour Hoffman centre screen.

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One response

  1. Saw this – pretty good movie – felt realistic.
    I’m a large fan of Willem Dafoe and will watch most anything he’s in.

    April 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm

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