Combustible Celluloid
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With: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Homayoun Ershadi, Nina Hoss, Franz Hartwig, Daniel Bruhl, Kostja Ullmann, Vicky Krieps, Mehdi Dehbi, Rainer Bock, Tamer Yigit, Derya Alabora, Herbert Gronemeyer, Charlotte Schwab, Max Vokert Martens, Bernhard Schutz, Martin Wuttke, Ursina Lardi
Written by: Andrew Bovell, based on a novel by John le Carré
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 121
Date: 07/24/2014

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hamburg Confidential

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With his controlled, restrained filmmaking that allows for mood-enhancing moments, former music video maker Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) is the right man for this John Le Carre thriller. Based on a strong screenplay by Andrew Bovell, Corbijn's highly intelligent A Most Wanted Man is patient with its details, uses urban locations to gloomy effect, and revels in soft-spoken, spring-loaded conversations.

Burned-out German intelligence officer Gunter Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works in Hamburg, Germany, where the 9/11 attacks were planned. A young half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) -- a possible ex-jihadist -- turns up, sending Bachmann's people on high alert. A human rights attorney, Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), plans to secure Karpov a multi-million euro inheritance from his father. Bachmann enlists the help of Richter, and also of banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), and using Karpov as bait, hopes to catch a much bigger fish: a respected philanthropist who is suspected of using a shipping company to finance terrorist activity. But Bachmann's clueless bosses are beginning to lose patience.

The entire movie is centered around one great character, Gunter Bachmann. As played by the late Hoffman -- in one of his finest performances -- Bachmann is always fascinating (never mind that Hoffman conjures up an impressive German accent). He's great at his job, but feels like a second-class citizen due to past mistake. He drinks and smokes and carries himself in a way that feels caught between success and failure. Corbijn confidently keeps the balance between the larger cat-and-mouse game and Bachmann's own, personal risk; the movie's final moment may haunt you for some time.

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