Friday, November 14, 2014

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Director: Anton Corbijn
Writers:  Andrew Bovell, John le Carre (Novel)
Cast:       Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe


A Chechen Muslim illegally migrates to Hamburg, where he gets up caught in international war on terror. As soon as he lands, he is the target of a German Intelligence Agency wing headed by Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who wants to track him to the next guy higher up in the food chain whereas other intelligence departments just want to arrest and parade him. US intelligence is also represented by Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) who half agrees with Gunther's wait and watch approach.

Film is an adaptation of John le Carre's novel of the same name which was published in 2008. It was based on the real life story of a German citizen of Turkish origin, Murat Kurnaz. It is a critique of George Bush's policy of extraordinary rendition, government sponsored abduction and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another, on the wake of 9/11 as a strategy for its War on Terror. In the film, Gunther is an old fashioned spook who wants to develop a network and and play the long game. As he puts in the film:It takes a minnow to catch a barracuda, and a barracuda to catch a shark. . The whole film is his attempt at doing so in order to get some leverage on a Muslim Charity which acts as a front for Terrorist organizations. 

It is very rare for us to get a spy film about actual spying. Most of the time we get only explosions and set-piece action sequences without much actual spying involved. 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', another John le Carre adaptation, was also in the same mould as 'A Most Wanted Man' but it was really more of a spying within spooks film. 'A Most Wanted Man' becomes a genre bender when the genre should be all about films like these. This was the last film completed by Philip Symour Hoffman before his untimely death and he is terrific as the protagonist and we expect no less. The characters in it speak English throughout which is more like how Bryan Singer's 'Valkyrie' did without accent. Slight German accent is used in 'A Most Wanted Man' but at no point does it feel corny. Some expositions are not well done and Robin Wright seems to be in awe of Philip Seymour Hoffman but the ending of the film justifies it and it made me go 'all Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes'. 

Overall the film is a great watch and it takes the intelligence of audience for granted. It is always a good sign when you don't want a film to end. Anton Corbijn, who previously directed 'The American' which was also a very good film, is certainly one to look out for. He seems to have done quite a lot of music documentaries and also the Ian Curtis of 'Joy Division' biography film.

Rating: 4/5