The 2014 spy thriller A Most Wanted Man is very much the product of a perfect storm. It has a talented director in Anton Corbijn and a great lead actor in Philip Seymour Hoffman (the last movie he completed before dying from a heroin overdose), and it is based on a novel by the incomparable John le Carre (who also helped with the script). Could a movie with these bloodlines fail? Sure, but this one does not. It is a great movie, and is highly recommended.
I enjoyed Corbijn previous cinematic effort–The American (2010)–a lot, although it got only tepid reviews (66 percent rating) on rottentomatoes. The movie recounted the demise of a burnt-out hit man played by George Clooney. (Note: his female co-star, Italian Violante Placido, is a real stunner).
Corbijn’s oeuvre, which includes photographs and music videos, resonates with one general theme–loneliness. According to the director:
I didn’t sit down and think, I’m going to make films about loners. I’m just drawn to that romantic idea. It always appealed to me–a man alone, how he copes with stuff.
The loner in A Most Wanted Man is played by Hoffman.
According to Belinda Luscombe, writing for Time magazine (28 Jul 2014):
[Hoffman’s] character is Gunther Bachmann, a German intelligence operative stationed in Hamburg, a city now under intense scrutiny from the intelligence community as the place where the 9/11 hijackers conspired. Bachmann is attempting to catch a high-level terrorist using a precarious human ladder of unwilling or unknowing participants, all of whom need him in some way.
The story is le Carre at his best: spying, intrigue and betrayal.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant in the movie as the jaded intelligence officer. This movie is a perfect way to remember the great–but troubled–actor. A Most Wanted Man was well received by the critics, garnering a 90 percent rating on rottentomatoes. It is rated R for language.