A Most Wanted Man
Tortured Muslim half-Chechen, half Russian convict Isa Karpov (Grigori Dobrygin) arrives in Hamburg seeking his deceased father’s inheritance. He is soon picked up and watched by a covert anti-terror unit headed by the mindful chief Gunther Baachman (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who is against the clock to discover whether Isa’s intentions are destructive or peaceful.
This is one of the last films to star Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who carries most of this film depicting the world weary leader of a small spy group set up to monitor terror activities in Hamburg. From the opening title it becomes clear that the film is driven by post 9/11 paranoia present throughout the West and a large degree of Islama-phobia . In fact there is a line later in the film where Gunter laments “We are suspicious of every dark skinned man that comes through”. Hoffman is outstanding in his role as spy leader Gunter, delivering as if all the weight of the world rests on his shoulders after years of being beaten down by other government agencies – who are present throughout, interfering with the investigations – all the while wearing the same downtrodden face, drinking and smoking heavily. It’s a shame that he is so great in this because of his performance, a sad reminder that the industry lost a superb actor earlier this year.
Director Anton Corbijn may have made his career with promotional video and photography for the music industry but his keen eye for detail and wide angled shots deliver a detached chilling style and room for the cast to play out the puzzle like plot. This may only be his third feature but brilliantly confronts ‘The War on Terror’ conduct by security officials and is adapted from the book of the same name by John Le Carre. This is not sort of spy movie audiences would expect from years of Bond and Bourne and instead plays out a more realistic and drawn out game of cat and mouse. Audiences expecting an upbeat action rush and gadgets galore may find this a drudge but with patience there is a solid and gripping thriller which barrel rolls through twists and a maze of political paranoia and espionage. If you enjoyed The American or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy or are looking for a tense thriller to keep you guessing then this a must see.
Words by Andrew Marshall