a most wanted man

The gifted and cerebral director Anton Corbijn (The American, Control) de-glamourized and upended the conventions of the post 9/11 spy film with A Most Wanted Man, a cold, cynical effort, where, much like in The American, he subverted the audience’s expectations at almost every turn, favoring the plausible over the unbelievable, the rational over the illogical, with results that are highly intelligent and wholly engrossing. Based on the John le Carré novel and shot with muted, un-showy elegance by the great cinematographer Benoit Delhomme, this is a film that lives in the same world as The Constant Gardener and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, favoring moral ambiguity and shadowy inner workings over flashy action scenes featuring car chases and shoot-outs. Andrew Bovell’s crisp, talky, and extremely sharp screenplay gave the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman the chance to slow-burn his way through one of the best performances of his estimable career. Slugging scotch or coffee and sucking down cigarettes in almost every scene, this weathered, broken, beaten-down character was a perfect match for Hoffman’s inherent sad-sack instincts – his final moments on screen blister with intensity. The great supporting cast includes Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bruhl, Nina Hoss, and Grigoriy Dobrygin. With an ending that truly stings and zero hand holding at any point, this is a film I’ve found myself watching whenever I come across it on the movie channels.



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