Let’s get this out of the way first—A Most Wanted Man is yet another reminder of how much we’re going to miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. We’re going to miss him a lot. A lot a lot. Time and again, he’s proven that he can embody a character. From his award-winning turn as Truman Capote, to his quirky supporting roles (I’m look at you, Twister), Hoffman always made you believe he was that person, and while staring up at the title screen during A Most Wanted Man, it was hard not to get a little emotional. Sure, we have The Hunger Games sequels to look forward to, but we’ve already seen him do that. A Most Wanted Man is our last chance to see him bite into a part and create something new. After watching the film, it somehow feels fitting that this is his last.
I love a good spy film. The word itself conjures up images of debonair Brits in three-piece-suits, fast cars, and Martinis. We think about MI-5, the FBI, the CIA, glamour, gadgets, and gunfights. A Most Wanted Man, based on the novel by John Le Carré, strips away these Hollywood trappings and leaves us with a more realistic, sometimes cynical portrayal of present day intelligence that is equally as thrilling and much more thought provoking. Set in Hamburg, the film presents us with a German perspective of 9/11 and the “War on Terror,” that we rarely see on screen. The illegal immigration of Chechen Muslim catches the attention of the government, intelligence, and even the Americans. Each believes they know best and the film takes the opportunity to question the hypocrisy, futility, and morality of international relations. Who are the enemies? What possesses a greater threat? Whom can you really trust?
Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, the leader of a team of spies and, as expected, is a marvel to watch. Bachmann isn’t a showy role but every part of him seems real—from his rumpled clothes to the quiet frustration in his eyes. He’s a little bit broken but he doesn’t let it affect his work. He does what he has to do and sometimes it just doesn’t turn out how it should. I think we all can relate.
The rest of the cast was good and I was surprised how much I enjoyed Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe. The German accents from the non-German actors took a little getting used to but they pulled it off. I was also hoping for a little more Daniel Brühl, but it was not to be.
Overall, I’m glad I saw this film. Although the slow pace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the densely packed story, top-notch acting, and fascinating (if not intentionally aggravating) final scenes are worth the price of admission.
Jillian Nagel is a freelance writer from Southern Ontario. She has been known to dress up in costumes in public and blogs about her action figure collection in her free time (www.talkingtinytoys.blogspot.ca). Follow her on Twitter @J_Nagel_Writes.