“A Most Wanted Man”, directed by Anton Corbijn, and based on a 2008 espionage novel by John Le Carré is one of the final movie appearances by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Corbijn is known mostly for his photographic and video work with a number of rock bands, including U2, Metallica and Depeche Mode, and this is his second non-music based feature, following 2010’s “The American”, starring George Clooney.
Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, a world weary but dogged German espionage agent, who is on the trail of Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a suspected Muslim Jihadist from Chechnya who has appeared in Hamburg.
Bachmann and his team are also interested in a local Muslim philanthropist, Dr. Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who they believe is sending funds to terrorist organisations, although they are not yet able to prove this.
Karpov is introduced to an human rights lawyer, Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), who wants to help him stay in Germany. Richter also helps him to contact banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), whose father had done business with Karpov’s father, and who is holding something in his bank vault for Karpov.
That something turns out to be a large sum of money. Initially Karpov rejects the cash, due to complications with his parentage, but Bachmann is able to use his various methods to get to first Richter, and then Karpov, and persuade them to use the money to help him implicate Dr. Abdullah and, in turn, persuade him to help get to the people further up the terror chain.
American agent Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) and German security official Dieter Mohr (Rainer Bock) are interested in the cases of both Karpov and Dr. Abdullah, giving Bachmann an additional headache, although they agree to allow him to run things as he sees best, in order to obtain the best possible result. But, can they be trusted, or will their own priorities and agenda take over?
As events pan out, we see the way that the various security agencies and supposed allies can work against each other at the same time as seeming to work with each other, and how the end result can mean compromising the long term objective in order to gain a short term victory, and the devastating effects that can have on some of the players.
This is an excellent spy thriller, well written and beautifully filmed. All the main actors perform very well. I was impressed by McAdams, whose previous work I am not that familiar with.
Hoffman, though, is undoubtedly the star of this film. I had previously enjoyed his acting in “Magnolia”, “Mission : Impossible III”, the fabulous “Almost Famous” and particularly “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead”, and his performance in this film really is top notch. What a loss to cinema his untimely death earlier this year is.