A Most Wanted Man is one of the last movies with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, The Master). He is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) and plays with Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Sherlock Holmes), Grigoriy Dobrygin (How I Ended This Summer), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The Grand Hotel Budapest) and Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, House of Cards). He portrays a spy character that the famous author and former British secret service spy John Le Carré knows so well to describe. Let’s dive in a new film post-09/11. Film review by Bulles de Culture.
It is in the port city of Hamburg that the 09/11 terrorists have developed their attack on the World Trade Center. So when ten years later, a Russian-Chechen immigrant, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), arrives, Western intelligence agencies including German agency of Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and American agency of Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright). But who is this illegal and being watched immigrant who asked to a lawyer from left, Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), to help him to meet the banker Thomas Brue (Willem Dafoe)?
A Most Wanted Man: from a novel by John Le Carré
What is very curious in this film is that it’s a spy story where no one is sure of anything: neither a camp nor the other. For a large part of the film, Bachmann and his team will follow the actions of this Issa but nothing will say whether he is dangerous or not. He has a beard, he kneels to pray, he is fluent in Arabic and is hiding since his arrival in town but other than that, nothing. And that’s the whole point of this film: here it is not a movie about a world which would be sketched with simplicity (good side and bad side) but rather about a character, Bachmann, trying to understand and adapt to its change.
The film does not rely on a succession of action scenes but rather a form of intrigues where tailing are taking place without exaggerated dramatization, meetings with other departments with different point of view are contentious but ordinary and when agents take action, this is rarely spectacular.
A very breathless spy movie
On the cast side, alcohol, cigarettes and old Mercedes, Philip Seymour Hoffman is all committed to his part as an always worried spy chief. In front of him, Robin Wright is very good in here part of CIA agent which is like the cold and devious character she plays in the series House of Cards. Similarly, Rachel McAdams is perfect in the part of the idealistic lawyer and her troubled relationship with Issa Karpov, played by Russian actor Grigory Dobrygin, is really touching. Finally, the still worrying face of Willem Dafoe is perfect to embody an opaque international banker.
In short, with A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anton Corbijn deliver us a very breathless spy movie where John le Carré‘s touch grabs us with delight.
To learn more:
- French release: 17/09/2014
- French film distributor: Mars Films
Top 3 Cinema: "Blade Runner" (1982), "Breathless" (1960), "Casablanca" (1942)
Top 3 TV: "Spiral" (2005 -...), "The Wire" (2002-2008), "Twin Peaks" (1990-1991)