A Most Wanted Man

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 19, 2014

A Most Wanted Man

The realistic spies of John le Carré's novels are the antithesis of testosterone driven heroes like James Bond. Their lack of substantial human connections is not because they have an independent and untamed spirit; it's an absence that comes from a lonely isolation in the soul.

In the film adaptation of le Carré's novel "A Most Wanted Man," the mysterious Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) has illegally entered Hamburg from Chechnya with access to a lot of ill-gotten money. Russian intelligence confirms that Karpov is an extremely dangerous terrorist, but Günther Bachmann (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a German espionage agent, doesn't want to arrest the Muslim man. Bachmann wants to use Karpov to catch a bigger fish, a philanthropist, Dr. Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who is believed to be funneling funds to terrorist activities.

With his team of agents, Bachmann is able to turn Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), a naïve immigration lawyer, and Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), a slightly shifty banker whose father laundered money for Karpov's father. Together they manipulate Karpov to lure Abdullah into their trap.

In his final starring role and his last film released in his lifetime, [Hoffmann] haunts each desolate and dubious frame he appears in...

The screenplay, by Andrew Bovell, skims over important relationships and agonizing character decisions in the interest of time, making the unions between the individuals even more barren and suspicious. So director Andrew Bovell uses a photographer's eye to establish incredible amounts of backstory though a mere look or simple action, like the silent smoking of a cigarette.

With actors like Hoffman, this method works brilliantly. In his final starring role and his last film released in his lifetime, the actor haunts each desolate and dubious frame in which he appears, as the camera searches for answers to questions that we will never truly be able to answer.

This Blu-ray disc has two significant featurettes. One gives a general overview of "The Making of 'A Most Wanted Man,'" and the other highlights the novelist who crafted the story, "Spymaster: John le Carre in Hamburg."

"A Most Wanted Man"
Rated R / 122 min.