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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014 3 years ago

FILM REVIEW: 'A Most Wanted Man'


Philip Seymour Hoffman gives the best performance of his career in "A Most Wanted Man." In his final starring role, we are reminded of his innate ability to uniquely embody every character he ever portrayed.

In this spy thriller, Hoffmann plays Gunther Bachmann, a German counterterrorism agent with a heart. Set in post-9/11 Hamburg, Gunther monitors the Muslim community. His latest person of interest is Chechen-Russian refugee, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) who has recently arrived in Hamburg. Issa has hired human rights lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachael McAdams) to help him collect his deceased father's ill-gotten fortune from a bank whose manager, Thomas Brue (Willem Dafoe) has reservations.

Is Issa an extremist bent on dispersing millions to terrorists or simply a tortured political prisoner just seeking asylum? Hoffman wants to trail Issa but is thwarted by CIA operative Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) as well as local German Intelligence. Gunther believes that Issa can lead him to important figures in the Jihad and is given only 72 hours to exact the truth.

Based on John le Carre's novel, "A Most Wanted Man" is rife with signature double-crossings, deceit, dubious characters and veiled sympathies. In le Carre's world no one is to be trusted. But in a deviation, he gives us Gunther Bachmann, an honorable man whose moral compass is dedicated to making the world "a safer place."

The esteemed Dutch photographer and director Anton Corbijn ("The American") has meticulously created an intelligent intelligence espionage thriller. Wide shots, extreme close-ups and expert lighting add a compelling layer to the story which is methodically paced. There are no shoot-outs, special effects or femme fatales in this engaging spy flick.

But it's Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of the grizzled chain-smoking, whiskey swigging dedicated operative which makes this film soar. Rumpled and relentless, his Gunther is the man we want in charge.
He makes us believe that what he sees is the truth ... a commodity so rare in such a disturbing world.
While watching "A Most Wanted Man" it's difficult not to tear up. Witnessing one of greatest actors of all time giving his last performance is sadly profound.



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