Put together the concept of what it means to be human and the violence that is damaging our societies in current times, and you have the masterpiece that is A Most Wanted Man; an exploitation of sensitive subject matter in our time of Islamist extremists and their stamp on western culture.
Anton Corbijn’s subtle, yet painfully real adaptation of John Le Carre’s spy thriller is a monumental piece of art held up by the genius of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the strength of Grigoriy Dobrygin, whose thought-provoking content will stay with the audience way after its release.
The story centres around Hoffman’s character Gunther Bachmann and his interest in suspect terrorist Issa Karpov (Dobrygin), after hearing news of his illegal entrance in the German city of Hamburg. Bachmann is a German agent that leads a team seeking to find and develop intelligence from the Muslim community in Hamburg, and thinks Issa is perfect to help him uncover the case that he’s working on, which in turn elevates his stale status. In order to get close to Issa, Bachmann must gain the trust of his immigration lawyer (Rachel McAdams), a fierce protector of Issa. In the first act of the film, Issa is portrayed as poor and afraid with brandished torture marks that paint his back, but it is later revealed that Issa has a fortune waiting in a private international bank, courtesy of his father, and it is the way in which Issa uses that money that becomes the focus of the authorities within the story.
Hoffman gives a particularly tremendous performance and conveys a character so human to the core that we almost feel exactly the conflict and defeat within his thought process. The type of tired and relentless character that Hoffman has played so well in previous films, has been pulled to the brim of his potential in A Most Wanted Man.
McAdams surprises with an emotional and almost maternal performance with her character – she is a woman who reveals depths of her strengths and grows as a character without even needing to say a word, and has become an enticing asset to the show.
A Most Wanted Man is beautifully shot and directed, allowing us to enter the mise-en-scene as if we are actually there. The dark grey and blue tone of the film, coupled with subtle square imagery, reflects on an entrapped and detached state of mind. The scenes are so that you can almost smell the decay of present day culture and feel the pressure of claustrophobia in the characters psychology, and it is with these qualities that we are so strongly drawn in.