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most_wanted_manA MOST WANTED MAN
Written by Andrew Bovell
Directed by Anton Corbijn
Starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright
Martha Sullivan: What are we trying to achieve?

Guntherr Bachman: To make the world a better place. Isn’t that enough?

Ordinarily, I take a fair amount of notes when watching a movie. With Anton Corbijn’s A MOST WANTED MAN, I have very little to draw upon as my eyes were glued to the screen for the majority of the time. As has been proven with previous John Le Carre adaptations, like THE CONSTANT GARDNER and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, his works, when given the attention to detail they deserve, make for very compelling thrillers. And with Phillip Seymour Hoffman leading this film in one of his final performances, A MOST WANTED MAN takes the meaning of compelling to a whole other level.


It is current day, Hamburg, Germany. International intelligence agencies circle around a suspected terrorist who has come into the country illegally from Russia. Given that Hamburg is where the September 11 attacks were planned, the alert level is always high here. No one wants a repeat of that atrocity but the lines have now been blurred between vigilance and over zealousness amongst the world’s intelligence gathering communities. Hoffman, playing German, heads up a discreet task force that is nowhere to be found on the books and, once he locates his man, he decides to let him roam free rather than take him in right away, in hopes that he will lead him to bigger fish. You can imagine that this makes some people in positions of authority rather uncomfortable. If Hoffman’s Guntherr is right, then they can apprehend a major player in the War on Terror; if he’s wrong, there could be dire consequences. To complicate matters further, even further that is than they already are internally for Guntherr and his team, a young lawyer (Rachel McAdams) comes in to represent the wanted man, leading the audience to question whether or not he really is a danger to anyone.


Corbijn, follows up his subtle, slow burner, THE AMERICAN, with yet another stylish, understated work that allows for its simple intricacies to engage the viewer. At times, his style here is perhaps too subtle though. As captivating as the story is, and as much as the film keeps you guessing, it does so in such a straightforward fashion that it doesn’t allow for any grander insinuations on the forces tasked with stopping terrorism or any actual character development outside of the main plot. The story is strong though and Corbijn plays A MOST WANTED MAN very smoothly, but ultimately perhaps a tad too safe.

4 sheep

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One Comment

  1. The story is very powerful thanks to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance and any performance I have seen with him in it.

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