A Most Wanted Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman dominates as German spy-master Gunther Bachmann in Anton Corbijn’s old-school espionage yarn, based on John le Carré’s 2008 novel. As is economically established, Bachmann is tracking Chechen-Muslim refugee Issa (Dobrygin) upon his arrival in Hamburg. Soliciting the help of human rights lawyer Annabel (McAdams), Issa is intent on claiming an inheritance via Willem Defoe’s banker, and, believed to have ties with radical Islam, his ultimate motives cause great intrigue to the authorities.
Sadly this is one of Hoffman’s final performances. It’s also one of his finest, taking a man who could have easily fallen into caricature – hard drinking, hard smoking, solitary, gruff – and with some wonderfully subtle moments constructing a believably flawed but stoic figure. The politics of the piece are equally well played, with Bachmann’s cerebral, long-game approach to counter-terrorism coming into conflict with the gung-ho local constabulary and Robin Wright’s shady US operative. Corbijn, though, never preaches. The elegance with which he attacks this quiet, contemplative tale about security and duty is as expected from previous work; it may build gradually to its gut-punch finale, but gorgeously so. And you simply can’t take your eyes off the hulking, tragic anti-hero at the centre of it all.