A MOST WANTED MAN Movie Review
A Most Wanted Man. Here is what it looks like at a glance; spies, atmosphere, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a lot of dialogue that feels meaningful even though it’s probably not. If you’ve seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy then you know what you’re in for when you’re heading along to A Most Wanted Man.
Set in a post 9/11 Hamburg, A Most Wanted Man follows Gunther, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and his team, who are trying to make the world a safer place by stopping potential risks to the safety of the Western World through espionage and subterfuge. His latest target is a business man who is possibly laundering money through his various charities. After a series of events leads refugee Issa Karpov, played by Grigoriy Dobrygin, to seek asylum in Germany, Gunther believes he can use the paranoia and the circumstances around Issa’s presence in Hamburg to possibly bring down the corrupt business man, if he is actually corrupt. What follows is a dense, complex movie which meanders through the various layers of human perception.
A Most Wanted Man is pretty good, and the dialogue is top notch. It does feel a bit preachy at times but the stellar cast makes you forget about that issue, most of the time. I mean come on, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams and Daniel Bruhl. It’s a fantastic cast, but unfortunately the majority of them don’t get nearly the amount of screen time they deserve. Willem Dafoe’s character, for example, is pretty integral to A Most Wanted Man’s plot, but oddly he disappears for the majority of the second act, only finally coming back into A Most Wanted Man’s third act to remind us, “Hey, don’t forget about me”. The same can be said about Daniel Bruhl, who is terribly underused. For God’s sake he was amazing in Rush and Inglorious Basterds and many more great movies. Robin Wright is kind of one note, you see how her whole part in the movie is going to play out when she is first introduced, and it’s great when it happens but damn was it predictable. In a movie that seems to pride itself on being set in the grey this seemed so paint by numbers.
Now as I stated before, the acting is superb, especially from Dobrygin’s Issav, who is simply mesmerizing. His presence is fascinating, when he’s in a scene all I could do was watch him and see where he was going to go with Issav. Issav’s motives are ambiguous, you’re constantly worried that this is a man who could cause a great deal of damage simply due to his beliefs, while at the same time you’re hoping that he gets a happy ending because all of this is based on racial stereotyping. A Most Wanted Man’s plot is so ambiguous that you don’t know who to root for. With Gunther you don’t know if he’s doing the right thing, especially when the majority of his case is based on presumption and possible racism. You don’t know whether you should root for Issav because he’s such an unsure factor in the movie, and with Rachel McAdams character Annabel, you’re not sure what to think, because you don’t know whether she’s helping Issav because of a moral obligation or as a middle finger to “the man”.
In the end, A Most Wanted Man is a great movie. There are some problems, like the pacing, and some of the actors aren’t particularly well used, but the cinematography is great, the dialogue is deep and meaningful, and yes, Philip Seymour Hoffman is great in it. He goes into the characters of Gunther and flawlessly becomes this character. Head along to see A Most Wanted Man if you’re looking for something with a great bit of atmosphere and a memorable story, but if you’re not in that kind of mood, stay away.