A Most Wanted Man Movie Review
Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone, but his movies keep coming. With the next Hunger Games fast approaching, Hoffman’s A Most Wanted Man is now on Blu-ray and DVD, offering a more subdued form of suspense. Too subdued? Probably, at least for dumb Americans like me.
A Most Wanted Man, based on a John le Carré novel (his last adaptation was the highly anticipated but underwhelming slow—again, for dumb Americans like me—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), has Hoffman playing a German intelligence officer who is pursuing an illegal Chechan immigrant he believes is an Islamist terrorist. Whether the immigrant is indeed a terrorist is another story.
A Most Wanted Man, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, relies heavily on nuance and intrigue over action and excitement. It is a “realistic” spy movie, if you will, which means it’s not nearly as exciting or as interesting as the premise implies. Nonetheless, thanks to a strong performance by Hoffman—who is only limited by his one-dimensional character—and a well crafted is-he-isn’t-he story and screenplay by Andrew Bovell, A Most Wanted Man works more often than it doesn’t.
But for dumb Americans like me, it’s a little too smart, a little too nuanced to really make a mark.
The movie lost me in the third act after largely holding my attention for the first two thirds; there is no specific reason other than to say the story itself fizzles toward the end. Whereas Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had a fantastic story that just wasn’t as explosive as it needed to be, A Most Wanted Man has a mildly interesting story that lacks much of a hook. The screenplay, acting and direction elevate the material for a while, but they only work wonders for so long.
Some people, those who are less like dumb Americans like me, may find something to sink their teeth into with A Most Wanted Man, but the movie’s lackluster third act offers little bang, literally or figuratively.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.