A MOST WANTED MAN // Marking the final leading role for Philip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man” is an espionage thriller from the same author as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. Intricate and complex in design, Hoffman delivers a powerhouse of a performance as Günther Bachmann, adding a fervor to an otherwise extremely dense subject matter. Much in the same way that Gary Oldman was the perfect actor to carry the heavy role of George Smiley in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” Hoffman becomes Bachmann almost effortlessly, English accent and all. Bachmann is a German espionage agent in charge of a group of spies that are seeking the whereabouts of a refuge named Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) who they eventually hope to use to flush out a local Muslim philanthropist, Dr. Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) of whom they suspect has ties to Al Qaeda. In a way that only author John le Carré can, the rabbit hole that these characters wind down is so expertly designed that the film requires an active viewer, taking in the subtle facts and building a case of their own.

Filled with plenty of turncoats and shifting agendas, the narrative, although often unclear, does take shape and packs a punch by the time the credits roll. In the same slow burn way that “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” unfolds, the resolution rewards the active viewer with some highly charged sequences, including several highlights of Hoffman’s career. This being one of his final performances, you cannot help but draw similarities between his character’s struggles and his own, begging the question how much personal baggage an actor brings to his characters. What also adds a different dynamic to the film is the diverse cast of actors and actresses used throughout. Everyone from Robin Wright, who plays an American diplomatic attache, to Willem Dafoe, who plays a banker who eventually cooperates with Bachmann, to Rachel McAdams, who plays an immigration lawyer contacted by Karpov. With these brilliant supporting players creating a solid foundation for Hoffman’s leading role, “A Most Wanted Man” becomes the perfect companion piece for John le Carré’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”.

[Directed by Anton Corbijn] [R] [122 min] [1 August 2014]   09fourhalf-stars

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