A Most Wanted Man (2014) – Film Review

Director: Anton Corbijn
Writers: Andrew Bovell
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe
Runtime: 121 min
Rating: R

It has been almost half a year since the tragic passing of one of the most important actors in contemporary film, but his legacy lives on as strong as ever. A Most Wanted Man brings not only one of Hoffman’s last projects, but a confirmation of his consistency in bringing quality projects to the screen. This adaptation from the novel of the same name is a story of espionage, love, and intrigue that will satisfy even Hoffman’s toughest critics.

A Most Wanted Man

After the planning of 9/11 was found to have happened in Hamburg, German and American authorities have pledged to never allow for something like it to go unnoticed again. Because of this, heavy causion and profiling has inundated the streets of the city, and when undocumented Chechen Muslim Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) shows up in Hamburg looking to retrieve his father’s money from an account, his actions become heavily monitored by Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his team of spies. Soon Karpov, his lawyer (Rachel McAdams), and his banker (Willem Dafoe), are all drawn inside a game far more complicated than anybody had expected.

Unlike many other films of the genre, A Most Wanted Man is quite easy to follow, although this is not to say that the story is not complex. It just means that you will be okay with watching the film once and understanding the nuances and tricks the characters have up their sleeves. Because of this the film seems to drag on at times, and it’s paced in a way in which the viewer in which tension is not built up as well as it could be. All this is worth it, however, for the absolutely well crafted and unexpected ending that completely changes the mood and value of the story in a great way. I was not in love with the feature while watching, but once I watched the ending I got the feel for the well crafted and solid work it truly is.

A Most Wanted Man

Philip Seymour Hoffman merely adds another impressive performance to his already revered repertoire. While I wasn’t blown away by his character in the film, he does what he does best, and not once does he flinch or feel out of character. As always, Hoffman seems to not be aware of the existence of a camera, and his performance is completely natural and unapologetic. Despite this, it feels as if the fact that most of the actors were playing Germans somehow inhibited them to reach their full capabilities. While Hoffman carries the role strongly, there were several instances in which McAdams’s accent was a bit strange. This does not take away from the final product by any means, but it certainly prevented me from achieving full enjoyment out of their performances. For me, the time of using North American Actors to play characters from other countries has passed, especially when they are required to speak English with an accent. Despite all this, the cast does work together to create a very well grounded and overall entertaining film that shows unexpected sides of its characters, and for those looking to experience the magic of Hoffman once more, the film certainly does not disappoint in showcasing what he does with ease: give a stellar performance.

The Breakdown
  • 8/10
    Direction - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Performances - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Screenplay - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Cinematography - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Music/Sound - 8/10