A most wanted man

Philip Seymour Hoffman died this winter, and A most wanted man is probably his last great on-screen performance. It is an adaptation of the John le Carré 2008 book. It takes place in Hamburg, Germany, the city where a group of terrorists, headed by Mohammed Atta, planned the Sept. 11 attacks. Understandably, the country has become very paranoid. Except for Günther Bachmann (Hoffman), head of a secret anti-terrorism agency. Bachmann, a hard-drinking, chain-smoking man, who believe that the way to do things is to infiltrate terrorists to catch bigger fishes. Take Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a young immigrant, who is hiding in Hamburg, and who is believed to be an escaped militant jihadist. The Americans, British and Germans wants Karpov arrested to prevent him from making contact with terrorist cells. But Bachmann wants to play it more strategically to trap a man they’ve been trying to catch. The agencies give Bachmann’s team 72 hours to achieve their aim. The complex plot involves human-rights lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe). CIA agent Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) befriends Bachmann and seems in agreement with his stance. The clash that is shown here between two different ideas is what is happening in today’s political world. It is more important, for some, to work with a set of popular standards that may not be effective, but keeps appearances, and scores political points, than, like Bachmann, be more effective but work outside of those standards. Director Anton Corbijn slowly builds the tensions and the suspense all throughout the film in a very effective manner. And cinematographer Benoît Delhomme’s hand-held camerawork has a documentary look, with the camera seeming to be spying on everyone. The cast is all perfect. Rachel McAdams is at her best. And Hoffman is the film’s heart, he gives A most wanted man the right rhythm, the right beat, and brings the others along. One heck of a performance in what is one heck of a film.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

A most wanted man

 

Directed by: 
Anton Corbijn
 
Screenplay by:
Andrew Bovell
Based on the novel by John le Carré
 
Starring: 
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Rachel McAdams
Nina Hoss
Rainer Boch
Robin Wright
Daniel Brühl
Willem Dafoe
Gregoriy Dobrygin
 
121 min.
 
Rated 14A
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