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8/10
A Fine Goodbye for Philip Seymour Hoffman
ClaytonDavis26 July 2014
The final moments of Anton Corbijn's latest film A Most Wanted Man are both gratifying and poetic. Starring an impeccable cast that includes the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright, the film is based on the novel by John le Carré, and is a tension-driven and smartly paced thriller ride that makes a mark as one of the year's best rides.

A movie that is more in the vein of an extended episode of "Homeland" than a full-out feature (which is not exactly an insult), is tightly wound, fish hooking the audience with its clever storytelling abilities. Corbijn creates a meticulous and subtle picture that unravels itself with suspense and excitement. The movie challenges the audience in attempting to follow each detail and fully understand what is going on. That might be a turn off to many. Like many of Carré's books that have been translated to film like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Constant Gardener, there's an aura that exudes from the screen that you want to take home with you. There's so much to the story that happens before the film and starts and long after the movie ends but you're satisfied with that. Adapted by Andrew Bovell, the Australian screenwriter may have penned the film of his career.

The elephant in the room is the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It's very hard to not want the film to end because you are very aware that this will be one of the last times you see a new film by this actor. One of the greatest actors to have ever lived, Hoffman shows exactly why his omission from our world is such a loss. Subtle, electrifying, and profoundly real, Hoffman's "Gunther Bachmann" is an intriguing force that demands the audience's attention with the simplicity of a tone or look. While the tween world waits on the arrival of the final two installments to The Hunger Games, this film felt more of his goodbye to the film community that has appreciated him for over two decades.

One of the pleasant surprises of the film is the beautiful and talented Rachel McAdams, which immediately makes you think, "where has she been?"

While she has been making her rounds in independent films like Passion, About Time, and To the Wonder, her role as "Annabel" shows a deeper talent that is aching to be realized by the right director. Internalizing emotions and releasing only when called upon, McAdams turns in her one of her strongest turns yet. Not your A-typical "damsel in distress" or "unbelievable tough chick," McAdams reinvents a character that could have just laid on the screen with no emotion. She relaxes herself into the role, working well off some of the screen's most gifted performers. It's a magnificent work.

With no real arc or allowance to his character, Willem Dafoe unfortunately distracts for much of the film. Feeling like he's part of the Osborne family again, his role is rather underwritten and a bit of a mystery but not one you're aching to learn more about. Robin Wright utilizes her sensational appeal and charismatic nature to sprinkle a dash of brilliance to the film's narrative. As "Issa," Grigoriy Dobrygin keeps the viewer at a distance, never allowing his true motives to unleash. He constantly asks the viewer to question our own judgment. He is very impressive.

With a gritty yet polished aesthetic, Corbijn knows exactly how he wants his film to look and feel. Using Cinematographer Benoît Delhomme keeps the tension at the very brim of explosion. Composer Herbert Grönemeyer, who also has a role in the film as "Michael," lays out a soothing, relentless score that is both memorable and undeniable.

A Most Wanted Man is smart and precise, an espionage thriller that stands out as one of the best of its kind in quite some time. It's confident in its approach and doesn't shy away from its central purpose. It's a morality tale that engulfs your conscience with terrifying and difficult questions. I don't mind being asked them every now and again. It's one of the year's best.

Read more @ The Awards Circuit (http://www.awardscircuit.com)
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8/10
John le Carré wrote it; Philip Seymour Hoffman performed it
Red-12516 August 2014
A Most Wanted Man (2014) was directed by Anton Corbijn. It's based on a novel by John le Carré. The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman. Basically, that's all you need to know about this movie.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is Günther Bachmann, a self-described spy. (Actually a counter-intelligence agent.) He's involved with a Chechen immigrant who has been tortured. There's money going from Hamburg to terrorists, but no one knows how this money gets there. Somehow the Chechen is involved. On and on it goes, with the German police opposing Günther, the CIA opposing Günther, and everyone betraying everyone else.

Günther is burned out and, essentially, has no life other than being a spy. As far as we can see, he never takes time off, he is interested in nothing other than work, and he has no friends and no colleagues he can trust. Hoffman portrays this part perfectly. No one could have done it as well.

A Most Wanted Man is pure Carré, and pure Hoffman, and that's why you should see it. If you're not impressed with Carré, or not impressed with Hoffman, there's no point going to the film.

We saw the movie on the large screen at the wonderful Dryden Theatre in Rochester, NY. However, it will work just as well on the small screen. No scuba shots, no mountain skiing shots--this isn't James Bond. If you know what to expect--gritty shots of Hamburg, Germany--you won't be disappointed, and the movie will work for you.
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8/10
A (Thoughtful) Slow Burn to an Explosive Climax
FilmMuscle4 September 2014
Plenty of people have already said this, but it's entirely true: 9/11 unleashed a far larger terror than just devastation to two buildings and many lives; it unleashed widespread paranoia—suspicion of the average Arab and yet another division in ideologies. Guantanamo Bay, contrary to majority belief, isn't only holding convicted terrorists but those innocent men accused of such turpitude as well. Wrongfully marking, such institutions have afforded authorities the ability to aggressively interrogate and brutally torture so much as a suspect. This is the kind of monster the culprits behind 9/11 released onto the world.

A Most Wanted Man chillingly manifests the terrifying degree to which intelligence organizations are (desperately) willing to go in order to identify their targets and extract imperative information. In this case, a man named Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) is that target—a former detainee of both a Russian and Turkish prison, now on the run as an innocent man who's being unjustifiably chased—and seeks the assistance of a lawyer (Rachel McAdams) to safely escape the intimidating clutches of whatever intelligence agency. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a spy who operates from a smaller, independent bureau that's significantly less forceful and antagonizing than the more powerful ones surrounding this prey, but still has its wide-open eyes fixed on Issa and the exact reason behind his illegal emigration to Hamburg, Germany as a Muslim.

As to expect from an Anton Corbijn film, this thriller is slower and more deliberate than most but yet definitely more absorbing and exciting than 2010's The American. It's also important to note that the film is an adaptation of the novel (the same title) written by John le Carré who has also authored gripping narratives like The Constant Gardner and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (both went on to become motion pictures as well, the former succeeding and the latter failing in my eyes). Anyway, what commences as a careful study of the crisis (numerous shots of Hoffman's character smoking in a darkly-lit vehicle and those of activity in mosques or Issa's movement around the city) quickens its pace as the stakes are finally realized and the endgame becomes clearer. From there on out, constant frustration and tension is totally expected from the audience as competing forces in the midst of the war on terror— all found in the grayer areas of principle rather than the black-and- white—vie for the upper hand.

The rest of the cast features the likes of Willem Dafoe (a banker who's connected to Issa through family friend relations), Robin Wright (a CIA agent), and Daniel Brühl (working alongside Hoffman as a computer-savvy agent). Hoffman's performance should absolutely be recognized once the end of the year approaches, again proving that he never phones it in (even when we're discussing a YA franchise like The Hunger Games). His character here is both confident in his path yet cautious at the same time, blurring our view to determine whether he's more compassionate or relentlessly unforgiving like the other agents. I also have to give props to McAdams for finally attempting something fresh at this point of her career which primarily consists of clichéd romantic comedies; herein, she doesn't have a romantic partner to latch onto for help as usual but a foreign fugitive on the brink of capture. As a result, she's smart (albeit vulnerably frightened) but only human at the same time.

In addition, the cinematography is very suiting and noteworthy—a bluish hue accompanies a substantial portion of the film as the itty-bitty details of the environment are forced to stick out (everything kept in suspense). Everything is visualized solemnly and unhurriedly, and the filmic look returns as the standard for spy thrillers. A subtle musical score gives an additional edge of anticipation to the narrative as the twists and turns emerge and the complexity of the subject matter deepens.

Now, if the climax wasn't as explosive and wholly satisfying as it was, the rest of the film in comparison would've appeared a little too meandering and eventless for most tastes. However, the subject matter and thematic material of the picture are (unfortunately) incredibly relevant in this day and age and the unpredictability of the story itself will ensue to the very last scene, therefore making this tale a mature compelling and provocative viewing of our modern world—the anguish and trepidation that has devoured us and confused our set of ethics.
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8/10
Brilliant farewell to one of the greatest ever !!!
avik-basu188925 October 2014
This film is all about how bureaucracy works. How the spy agencies tackle and deal with problems that arise. Different agencies have different and sometimes contrasting ways to deal with the same problem and this leads to a dilemma which I think is the main theme of the film. The movie addresses the question of whether it is better to come up with the quick solution by nabbing the ordinary low-lives who become terrorists by getting influenced by others or is it worth the patience to let them do what they are supposed to in order to get to the real bosses and masterminds and get to a solution that is more significant and I think it addresses it brilliantly. The director develops a very tensed atmosphere throughout the entire film and never succumbs to the pressure of coming up with flashy over the top action sequences and the screenplay is very realistic. Now let's come to the acting. There are many supporting actors like Rachel Mcadams, Willem Dafoe,etc who are good. But this film is Philip Seymour Hoffman's vehicle. He is stupendously brilliant as he always was throughout his career. This film allows him to go out with a bang and show the world why he was one of the greatest. He plays a character who is a chain smoker and who uses this addiction to hide from the failures and struggles of his past career. Hoffman never puts a foot wrong. While the film was more or less brilliant, there were one or two minor scenes which seemed slightly unrealistic and Rachel Mcadams' German accent was sort of on again off again. But apart from these I can't find any flaws. Some people who want every spy thriller to be like James Bond have called this boring, but for people who like gritty,realistic stories about spies and national security, this will be a rewarding experience.
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7/10
To Make the World a Safer Place
ferguson-626 July 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. If you aren't an avid reader of John le Carre' spy novels, perhaps you've seen movie versions such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener, or The Russia House. If not, how about director Anton Corbijn's previous film The Amercian (2010 with George Clooney)? The more you've read and seen these, the more you are prepared for this latest.

Mr. le Carre' actually was part of MI5 and MI6 (British Intelligence) and uses his experience even so many years ago to provide the type of post 9/11 anti-terrorism spy thriller that doesn't focus on explosions and gun play, but rather the subtleties of communication when very smart people go up against other very smart people who may or may not share their goals. Secrets and misdirection abound. Traps are set, and sly maneuverings are pre-planned.

As if all that weren't enough, how about another mesmerizing performance from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman? He is a master at the top of his craft here. Sure, maybe the German accent is a bit distracting at first, but it was necessary because movie audiences needed a constant reminder that he is not playing an American! I cannot explain how this chain-smoking, mumbling schlub can so dominate a scene and disappear into a character, but Hoffman most certainly does both.

In addition to a very cool script, excellent support work comes from Grigor Dobrygin as Issa, the central figure in Hoffman's character's work, Willem Dafoe as a somewhat shady banker, as well as Robin Wright, Daniel Bruhl, Nina Hoss, Homayoun Ershadi, and Rainer Bock. The only miscast is Rachel McAdams as rich girl turned terrorist sympathizer.

Parts of the score were excellent - the droning, ominous piano notes. The composer was Herbert Gronemeyer, a German rock star (you'd never know from the score). This is a delicious, challenging look at international spies and how one never knows where they fall on the food chain ... minnow, barracuda, shark. http://moviereviewsfromthedark.com/
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9/10
A Definite Must-See
bloodclay31 August 2014
There's not very many movies I've seen in the past year that measure up as well as A Most Wanted Man. Granted, I've seen a lot of fun or interesting films that I definitely enjoyed, but this one really hits the mark in a way that others didn't. It transcends being entertaining and becomes its own sort of enigma. But I don't want to give the impression that it's hard to understand, because it certainly isn't. The plot is easy to follow (once you get used to the German accents), and each character has their own tendencies that you pick up on quickly, but I never quite knew what was about to happen. I was kept on my toes, or on the edge of my seat rather, and I appreciated how unpredictable it was.

Set in Hamburg, Germany, it centers around a secret group of anti-terrorism operatives lead by Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman). After coming across a brutally tortured Chechen immigrant who turns up in the local Islamic community, and is laying claim to his father's corrupt fortune, they attempt to establish his true identity and motives. And with the US taking close interest as well, it becomes a slow-burn thriller that unfolds with a huge amount of style and elegance.

It's the kind-of movie you'd want to curl up by the fireplace and watch on a cold December night. Hoffman (who is never not smoking a cigarette in this) delivers one of the best performances in his career, rivaling his role in Capote. And the direction by Anton Corbijn is outstanding, giving it a sharp and neat feel that carries throughout. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It's a definite must-see.
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10/10
At long last, a ballistics-free espionage film with an actual storyline
pausher-433-5204222 August 2014
I caught this movie at the Century Napa Valley Theater(they have a wine bar...naturlich!)after work yesterday while waiting for the homeward bound traffic to die down. It's terrific. A story about German spooks in Hamburg (Mohamed Ata's launch pad) setting a trap for a suspected terrorist financier, and not a single shot is fired, no one is killed, no dead bodies, no impossible martial arts acrobatics and no "amazing" shots of bullets frozen in mid air. In other words, an actual story via the maestro John le Carre. The ending is really infuriating, but probably representative of how a lot of these efforts have ended up since 9/11. Philip Seymour Hoffman is over the top as the head spook. I'm sure going to miss him.

Unusually, all the main characters are played by American/Canadian actors. Not a single Brit or Aussie and Germans only in supporting roles. Another reason it's a real one-off.

Check it out!
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5/10
Realism versus Story-Telling
KWiNK5 October 2014
As much as I respect and at times love director Anton Corbijn's and author John Le Carré's emphasis on realism, this movie is bogged down by a lack of focus on one story-defining goal, which is rather realistic but makes for a difficult watch.

Before anyone gets mad: I am well aware that this is Philip-Seymour Hoffman's last completed film - which was actually the reason for me to go see it. And he is good. PSH-good. Meaning, by the standards of most other actors he is GREAT, but by PSH-standards its a pretty run-of-the- mill role that does not call for a great performance and Hoffman plays it like that: A neat little movie experience in Germany that came along and that he probably did not take too seriously, obviously not suspecting that it would be his final starring role. And he does well when you compare it to Willem Dafoe's performance, which he apparently took very seriously. At times Dafoe seems to hinge on the verge of overacting, at least when compared to the other actors and his surroundings.

But the real trouble, as I said, is the story. It starts out as an espionage thriller focusing on the question whether Issa, a Chechen Muslim having entered Germany illegally, has come as a terrorist and is planning on meeting fundamentalists or other radical elements and maybe blow something up. Slowly the focus then shifts without ever clarifying that Bachmann (Hoffman) and his team no longer suspect Issa to be dangerous, but somehow they start acting like they have come to that conclusion. The focus keeps shifting and in the end you realize the movie was about something totally different all along which it didn't stress. Because it is something that Bachmann would have had to stress and he is not the kind of character who goes on tantrums over things, so it is realistic but makes the storyline seem a little crooked.

Add to that that around the middle the team decides for a course of action that seems drastic at first but then ends up slowing the entire movie down a bit. For about ten to twenty minutes the whole premise just seems to float and not go anywhere. I felt bored for a while before the pace picked up again.

As a last concern: Rachel McAdams just doesn't belong here. This is not really a critique of her or her acting talents which are fine. But while everybody else looks like the characters they play, she just looks like a Hollywood starlet who came to spice up an independent movie with some glamor. Which is completely out of place. It doesn't help that we all but never see her character, who is supposed to be a lawyer, do anything lawyerly other than speak to Dafoe's rich banker on her client's behalf. She is just an alien in this world of low-life agents and bureaucrats.

What we end up with is a pretty okay movie with some great photography and interesting themes that are, however, not told all that stringently. But if you came to enjoy Hoffman's last performance, you will get your opportunity to enjoy, even if it isn't his most outstanding work. It still shows that the man was a genius on screen.

By the way: If you see this with someone from Germany, prepare that they start giggling when they see "Michael", a government employee aiding Bachmann: The actor is Herbert Grönemeyer, a well-known and often ridiculed pop-singer in Germany who very rarely acts in movies. Germans are primed to laugh at him trying to act (as few remember his pretty well-done starring role in classic "Das Boot").
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9/10
Another great John le Carre adaptation
zimm2526 July 2014
A Most Wanted Man is a thoroughly engaging movie which sadly includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman's final performance. He is wonderful in the film and is surrounded by a solid cast, though not nearly as good as Hoffman. Similar to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the pace is moderate with almost no summer blockbuster action. It's a wonderful pallet cleanser for anyone who enjoys a thriller and has already seen a bunch of the latest CGI showcases.

Tinker Tailor is more difficult to understand than this movie as A Most Wanted Man weaves a fairly straight forward plot. Some reviews I read before seeing the film had me thinking twice about reading the wikipedia plot synopsis before I went into the theater, but I ventured in without doing so and didn't have any trouble keeping up. I'll also be happy to see it again on Blu-Ray in my home theater and will surely catch much more of the subtle nuances.

It's well worth the $10+ bucks to see it if you have a good theater nearby, but if you miss it this summer, it's 100% worth the time to watch it at home. The scenes are beautifully shot, but don't require an IMAX sized screen to enjoy.
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8/10
Spy Work: Gritty, Dirty and Glamor-Free
marsanobill10 August 2014
The plot hardly matters here; it's only a vehicle for exploring the dirty side of intelligence work and is complicated as a Swiss watch. Maybe the NSA revelations have you thinking twice about spywork? The fact that we caught spying on our own allies, the Germans, adds a special relevance to this tale. But the real appeal here is a)LeCarre's dark, dark, dark worldview and b) Hoffman's superb acting. He just tosses this role off, and is utterly convincing. After you see this you should see the film that perfectly bookends it: LeCarre's early '60s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Just as gritty and dirty and with Richard Burton as Alec Leamus. Like Gunther Bachmann,Leamus was a worn-out, beat-up, used-up operative, and audiences of the time, entranced by the frivolities of James Bond, were rather shocked by the dose of reality he represented.
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9/10
A thriller with a current message
donb-519-33507512 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
How does a society both protect its people from bad guys who want to destroy it - while safeguarding personal liberty, free speech, personal information, etc? It is a current dilemma one which is very capably explored in A Most Wanted Man.

The story line is easily understandable - a Chechnyan refugee is seeking asylum in Hamburg and he wants to rid himself of the millions of euros left to him by his corrupt Russian father.

German Intelligence (Philip Seymour Hoffman) ties him to a Muslim philanthropist who is a leading financier for a variety of charitable organizations who do good throughout the world. But they (PSH) strongly believe that the philanthropist is also funding terrorism.

This John le Carre novel is well presented with a terrific cast - a tension filled plot - and very compelling dialogue. If you are looking for action, watch the latest Bruce Willis flick, this is all "between the temples" kind of stuff. The interesting tension is between the German Intelligence community (PSH) who want to parley this situation into more intelligence, so they can catch bigger fish; and the enforcement and political arms of the German government - who basically want to apprehend the suspected bad guys and make a media splash.

The story plays out in a edgy fashion - I won't tell you the ending. It is not necessarily what we want to see, but seems to reflect the realities of the current political situation in the world.

The saddest part of the film is the knowledge that this was Philip Seymour Hoffman's final film. Drugs, despair and depression have robbed us of one of the greatest acting talents of our time. He truly was one of a kind - I feel cheated by his leaving.

If you see it, and I hope you do, you must watch the special features -

the interview with John le Carre. Right after watching his interview I went in to speak to my wife and I heard a discussion on Fox which perfectly mimicked the topic and concerns he was expressing in the interview. You know Fox's take on things - you need to watch the interview with Mr. le Carre to see what I mean.

I am not much of a "spy guy," but this one really captured me. Now I have to decide which John le Carre novel I should read. Any ideas?
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6/10
Story lets the film down
peter-stead-740-48696314 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Because it's le Carré, many have drawn parallels with Tinker Tailor, but the latter is a far superior story.

The titular character is no character at all and his story is pretty much a dead end. He is a Chechen who arrives in Hamburg illegally and covertly. He has been to hell and back and as you would expect he bears both the emotional and physical scars of his past, which he relates small snippets of. However, none of this has much impact on the story. His purpose in Hamburg is to claim the €10M his late father left at a bank there. His father is of dubious character and so he then suddenly decides he wants no part in the money after all.

We then turn our attention to the money being offered to a known terrorist financier (unwittingly by the Chechen) so that the German Secret Service can use this to lead them to the highest echelons of the organisation and their other financiers and money launderers. This is the problem. By focusing on this part of the story we are simply left with a clichéd dick measuring contest between Gunther (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who will do it the smart way and take down the whole syndicate and a rival department who just wants to take out the Chechen and go for short-term glory.

At this stage I should mention I had a pee break half an hour in, so may have missed something crucial, but this is what troubled me: Gunther is screwed over by the rival department and by an American Spook, played by Robin Wright. We know why the rival would, but why would she do this? Nothing is explained about this or the story behind what the €10M was originally for. Also, given the relevance of the subject material in today's news, there is a surprising lack of exploration of the political context.

Compare this to Tinker Tailor, where dubious actions and motives were very clearly established and yet skilfully revealed and where there was a memorable bad guy. A Most Wanted Man falls way short in this comparison. Although a period piece, Tinker Tailor feels more relevant to current affairs than this film.

The Acting is excellent as is the Direction, even the Writing isn't at all bad, but the story itself may leave you underwhelmed.
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1/10
Bad and boring.
iljavonnagel23 October 2014
I love a good, gritty, low-key thriller. This movie is not that.

The John Le Carre characters are watered down and distilled to meaninglessness and boredom. None of their motivations are discernible, and the different figures are mostly just there to look sinister, smoke, drink and walk around in Hamburg. The complex Le Carre plot, shrunk to movie length, is completely incomprehensible. Pretty much nothing happens during the entire movie - and by nothing I don't just mean that there are no action scenes (that would be okay) but that there simply is no story. The much lauded "final scene" is just as incomprehensible, meaningless and ridiculous as the rest of the movie.

Nothing in this film interested me at all, except (a little bit) Hoffman's final performance (which, let's face it, is not that exceptional were it not for the fact that it was his final) and, mostly, the interesting Hamburg and German scenery.

Don't see it, it's not worth it.
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10/10
'Have you ever seen blood on the street?'
gradyharp23 November 2014
John le Carré's brilliant novel A MOST WANTED MAN has been transformed into a screenplay by Andrew Bovell and Stephen Cornwell and as directed by Anton Corbijn the very complex story works well - primarily because of the performances of a near perfect cast. The theme is in keeping with John le Carré's loathing of the Cold War spying crimes and this particular story, though difficult to follow at times (a factor that helps the innate confusion of the spying and counterspying - a process examined by the film) it is a piercingly indictment of the machinations of the spying and terrorist techniques of all countries.

When Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill gotten fortune, both German - Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a worn-out, beat-up, used-up operative and his aides Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) and Maximillian (Daniel Brühl) - and US security agencies - Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) take a close interest. One Human Rights Lawyer (Rachel McAdams) attempts to help Issa with the aid of Bachmann and Frey. As with almost all evil acts the villain is money - Issa has come to inform his father's best friend, banker Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) that the money he is to inherit must be given to charities (Issa vehemently disapproved of his father's ill-gotten gains). As the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity - oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? A MOST WANTED MAN explores the dirty side of intelligence work complicated by counterspying and is a contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue, love, rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension right through to its last desperately surprising scene.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant in this downbeat, distrusting, disheveled, difficult role and is well supported by a fine cast, including Willem Dafoe, the underused Mehdi Dehbi and Neil Malik Abdullah. The film is choppy, the accents and all spoken dialogue is rather difficult to follow, but the impact this anti-spying statement makes is well worth the time invested.
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7/10
Tense film about terrorism plenty of thrills , intrigue and a surprising end
ma-cortes4 October 2014
A MOST WANTED MAN deals with a Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror . The picture concerns upon the world of secrets agents and spies in relation with Islamic terrorism and its funding sources . Thrilling and exciting movie about terrorism , spies and geopolitical issues . The Chechen laying claim to his father's ill gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity - oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? . The Chechen young called Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) is helped by a lawyer (Rachel McAdams) , being pursued by German secret services , Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) , Irna Frey ,(Nina Hoss) , Maximilian (Daniel Brühl) and American agents (Robin Wright) .

Intrigue , suspense and extraordinary acting by an excellent cast . This interesting movie is a cold thriller plenty of suspense , mystery , tension and a little bit of violence . The ultra-brisk editing and slick scenes movement leaves little time to consider some inadequacies . Philip Seymour Hoffman , at his last film , results to be the main attraction , he sustains interest in this tale of spies and terrorism . Story's core is interesting and script is dense with information and drama . The use of thoughtful messages to add weight to an enjoyable subplot between the alleged terrorist and the young solicitor , though feels a little forced . Based on John Le Carré's novel, is a contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue , love , rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension right through to its last heart-stopping scene . The picture takes parts from a recent sub-genre regarding Islamic terrorism whose main representations are the followings : ¨ The Siege¨ (98, by Edward Zwick with Denzel Washington,Tony Shalhoub) about the dangerous terrorism Arab in US ; ¨ Spy game ¨(2001, by Tony Scott with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford) concerning the spy-world ,¨Body of lies ¨ (2008 by Ridley Scott with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe ) about sophisticated methods of the international terrorism and ¨Traitor¨ (2008 , by Jeffrey Nachmanoff with Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce) dealing with the bombing civilian targets . Exceptional main cast gives good acting as Philip Seymour Hoffman as Günther , Rachel McAdams ad a kind advocate in law and Grigoriy Dobrygin as a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community . Very good support cast such as Robin Wright as Martha Sullivan , Nina Hoss as Irna Frey, Daniel Brühl as Maximilian and Willem Dafoe's cool displaying a brief performance as an astute banker .

The film packs adequate , evocative cinematography by Benoît Delhomme and atmospheric musical score by Herbert Grönemeyer who also appears in a secondary role . The flick was well directed by Anton Corbijn who previously filmed ¨Control¨ and ¨The American¨ . Being written and produced by veteran John Le Carre who wrote several novels about spies sub-genre developed during ¨Cold war¨ , being rendered to cinema in movies as ¨The spy who came in from cold¨ (by Martin Ritt with Richard Burton) , ¨The Kremlin Letter¨(John Huston with Nigel Green) and ¨Russia House¨(Fred Schepisi with Sean Connery) , these films get similar atmosphere and twisted intrigues about spies among East and west World but with no relation to spies from James Bond novels by Ian Fleming . Le Carre's work has been the basis for such recent big screen thrillers as "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "A Most Wanted Man." And today Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie team for John LeCarre TV series based on John LeCarre's 1993 novel "The Night Manager," Ink Factory ("A Most Wanted Man") is producing the series .
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6/10
A Movie that thinks the viewer is not very intelligent
interlude28823 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Being a huge fan of Philip Seymour-Hoffman and having liked Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so much, I was almost sure this was going to be a brilliant movie. Maybe because of this expectation I was really, really disappointed.

There is no nuance or subtleness and the characters are really flat without any depth. Also the quality of the conversations (which were great in Tinker Tailor) are rubbish. The most powerful line in the movie is 'To make the world a safer place', how cheesy is that? Bachmann is intelligent enough to manipulate everybody. He can make a boy betray on his father (which may not be even the bad guy), but as magnificent as he is, he is dumb enough to not see the plans of the Americans blending in and screwing him up for the second time. As brilliant as his team is, they cannot figure out that maybe, Issa stays at the apartment of the lawyer's brother.

I could go on endlessly about things like this who just don't make any sense. Issa has traveled across Europe to get his money, suddenly he doesn't want the money, and suddenly he does want the money. And all these very important moments in the plot just happen, we can't even see how. Oh and of course the bracelet, dear god. Issa has been in prison for his whole life, being able to cope with extreme torture, travel across Europe and honoring his mother all along the way. But when he meets up with a blond three times, he thinks, well just let me give you the most precious thing I own. Makes perfectly sense.

All the characters, all the dialogues are just very simple and basic. An intelligence guy who drinks and smokes a lot with a long legged assistant with a secret crush on him. A female lawyer who hates her rich dad and travels by bike. The acting was okay though, if you can look through the cheesy dialogues.
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2/10
a most wanting man
coatofsolidgold3 August 2014
Hoffman? Le Carre? two hours of cerebral spy thriller? What's not to like?

The film runs 2 hours and 1 minute, and for 2 hours I held on to that hope. Unfortunately in that last minute the lights come on and, well, there's a lot not to like.

For starters, the "man" is an enigma throughout the four day narrative. We know he's been in Russian then Turkish prison and he's been tortured. And that's the whole back story, not in a nutshell but the whole seven course meal. And we learn nothing more about him whether he's guilty of anything or innocent of everything. Nonetheless, Bachmann (Hoffman), the German police, and American intelligence are all keenly interested in him and his purpose in Hamburg. A day or two later, Bachmann has discovered his very mundane purpose, which, naturally as there wouldn't be much story otherwise, fits in perfectly with his plans to turn a benevolent but dirty local Islamic philanthropist. The police and Americans have other ideas - and that is the entire plot - not convoluted, subtle, nuanced, layered, or complex. It's just a bureaucratic turf war that turns out badly (maybe) because apparently there is no higher authority in German intelligence to resolve things, other than this sloppy, chain smoking, drunk.

These narrative problems appear to originate in the book, if Amazon reviews are any guide, but are compounded by Corbijn's direction, which, just as in the tedious "The American", combines brilliant visual with lifeless, stereotyped characterization.

The acting is fine and while the camera frame is Hoffman's oyster, playing a sloppy, chain smoking, drunk is not exactly a challenge, nor, sadly, a stretch.
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4/10
No thrills
partagas15017 August 2014
This film can best be summed up as the sound of cigarettes burning, ice and whiskey clinking around in tumblers and Phillip Seymor Hoffman breathing laboriously. Now, I love a quiet and gritty film but these sounds of the mundane become more significant than the plot. Critics want to love this film due to Hoffman's unfortunate passing but it lacks expression. The climax is weak. Again, it relies on the textures and sounds of the mundane to create tension and suspense. And this film doesn't end, it just stops. It only inspired conversations of 100 ways to make it better. I'm sure that many will imply that people who do not favor this film are simply not sophisticated enough to understand its subtle complexity but in truth, this is just a boring movie that fails to deliver any thrills.
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9/10
The deep, dark, dirty world of espionage
jkbonner12 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A brief introductory prologue informs us that Mohamed Atta, the mastermind who engineered the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, conducted much of the planning in the north German city of Hamburg entirely unmolested and without the slightest hindrance from the German government.

After 9/11 the German government set up an undercover black ops center to monitor potential terrorist activities and to nip them in the bud. This was especially important because Germany is host to a sizable Muslim minority. Most of them went there to seek jobs and a new life but some, like Atta, had darker motives in mind.

Heading the black ops center is Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman)―a seasoned spy who runs a tight ship. Bachmann is a lonely, chain-smoking, hard drinking dedicated professional. The kind of man who lives alone in a dingy, dark apartment and suffers from insomnia. He's a master of psychological manipulation: of his German underlings working for him and most noticeably his chief under-assistant, Irna Frey (Nina Boss), his informants, the people he must pull into the action to get the job done his way, and the official German police whose duty it is to make sure another Mohamed Atta doesn't arise in their midst. Bachmann also has a black mark on his career. The powers that be blame him for botching a espionage job in Beirut and for this he's been posted in Hamburg. He's asked whether he considers this a downgrade, to which he laconically replies, "It depends whether you like Hamburg or don't like Hamburg."

Bachmann―and the movie―focuses hard on two men. The first he's been following for some time: Mohammad Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), a man who has been pushing pacifist Muslim charities and organizations and cooperation with the West. But Bachmann suspects Abdullah has a soft spot for a terrorist organization, whose front is a shipping company headquartered in Cyprus, along with the good charities he promotes. As Bachmann puts it, "A good man who has a little bad in him." Bachmann also becomes aware of a potential terrorist when one of his informants tells him a young Chechen Muslim, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), has just arrived in Hamburg illegally. Karpov seeks help from a Turkish couple, who introduce him to Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), an attorney who wants to defend his rights.

The legitimate German authorities are hankering to pick up both Abdullah and Karpov, and Bachmann's doing his best to hold them at arm's length. Complicating this is the appearance of an American highup operative (presumably CIA), Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright). At first she seems friendly and on Bachmann's side. At a face-to-face meeting over drinks, she admits that on her orders one of her operatives messed up the Beirut job. She apologizes for exposing Bachmann's operatives in the process, some of whom were tortured or murdered. To which he asks, Did she ever wonder what exactly she was doing by giving her guy the go to make the leak and more important, why did she order such a thing? To which she cheerfully replies with a snickering smile, "To make the world a safer place." The impression on Bachmann's face reveals what he's thinking.

The question for Bachmann is, Is Karpov a radical Islamist? Or is he just a Chechen seeking refuge from his ordeal with the Russians, who tortured and beat him? We soon learn Karpov has another, deeper reason for coming to Hamburg. His deceased father, a Russian naval officer who amassed a sizable fortune by racketeering and other unsavory activities, sequestered it in a Hamburg bank run by a man named Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe). Karpov bears a letter signed by Brue's father, the former CEO of the bank, attesting to the account. On Karpov's behalf Richter makes contact with Brue and soon he meets up with Karpov.

Knowing this, Bachmann begins manipulating all three: Richter, Karpov, and Brue. Bachmann has his own reasons for doing things his way, such as letting Abdullah off so they can follow his activities and find bigger fish―his metaphor being let the barracuda (Abdullah) lead to the shark (the kingpin of the terrorist organization to whom the money is being funneled). Karpov he dismisses as harmless. A confused young man who wants to live a clean and decent life. As he tells Richter, "You and I both know he's innocent." Karpov wants to turn his ill-gotten fortune over to Abdullah. The entire operation is set up and monitored by Bachmann's people. When Abdullah at Brue's bank makes a single change to his beneficiary list to include the terrorist shipping company, Bachmann has validated his idea, vindicated his reputation, and achieved his goal. Or has he?

Sullivan has tricked Bachmann. Just as she ordered her underling to betray Bachmann's people in Beirut, so she has betrayed him again by letting him think she supported his way of handling the situation and instead set up the German authorities to seize both Abdullah and Karpov. On that note the movie ends. Espionage is a game with many angles and many opportunities for betrayal.

David John Moore Cornwell, aka John Le Carré, is a man who has thought deeply about his profession. His books are an outpouring of his thoughts. They show the loneliness, the isolation, the difficulties for a spy of connecting at the personal level because whom you trust may not be trustworthy. A person whose life is subjected to potential betrayal at all levels and who must also endure the threat of torture, and death. It is not a pretty life and on most levels not a happy life. And it is certainly not a glamorous life. Dangerous yes, but not glamorous.

A Most Wanted Man was Philip Seymour Hoffman's last movie. He did a terrific job at portraying Günther Bachmann to a tee. He possessed an incredible talent. I'm truly sorry he's gone.

9/10
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1/10
Warning: Boredom alert!!!!
philip-128-6646989 October 2014
Yesterday I saw this movie and I just had to write something about it. Why? Because this is the most boring movie (by far) I have ever seen. Another example of why Dutch directors should never make movies. It's not only boring, but it's full of plot-holes, bad acting and lack of character building/ background etc etc. Mr. Corbijn should really stick to making photo's and video clips, make short films. It's a pity that the last movie PSH made, had to be this one... I really don't understand why other people rate this movie higher than with one star. It's suppose to be a thriller, but really nothing happens. Don't waste your time (2 hours!!!) and money on this one, pick another film to watch.
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1/10
Don't waste your money, not even worth a Redbox rental!
sbelchercribel75 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I went to go see this film last night, mainly because it has the word "thriller" in the title.

What the audience really gets is a laughably bad film (my friend, who was eager to see this movie actually fell asleep because what you mostly get out of this film is walking around and speculation if a man is or isn't a terrorist).

If you want a movie where people talk over and over and over again about one man who wants his father's "dirty money" for most likely terrorist related things, go see this film.

If you want the late Philip Seymour Hoffman walking around looking anxious, smoking, driving his car, and speculating whether or not a man is a terrorist and playing a piano in a five second pointless scene, go see this film.

If you want a thrilling "plot twist" that the money will in fact go to a sea shipping company that the audience is already informed of two hours earlier, and that one of the most "thrilling scenes" is a man signing a piece of paper, go see this movie.

This is not a thriller, no one should give this movie more than 1 star if they have any respect for truly good films.
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8/10
German intelligence agent betrayed and dishonoured
maurice_yacowar30 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man is a pure John Le Carre spy thriller, but it's profoundly propelled by the posthumous performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Indeed the very title points to both the Chechen Muslim Issa, who's the focus of the film's central hunt, and Hoffman, the actor whose suicide leaves us wanting him so much, for the values this performance demonstrates. Even one who goes for the Le Carre will be gripped by the Hoffman. Rarely does an actor's persona so movingly deepen a performance.

Hoffman plays Gunther Bachmann, a contemporary German version of LeCarre's British hero, Smiley. He's a shrewd, principled Outsider even in the world of Outsider spies. He's the Outsider's Outsider, usually neglected until he has to come clean up the mess. Though the focus is Germany, as in Le Carre's British-centered spy films the intelligence work is complicated and even thwarted by the tensions between the allies, especially the dread Americans.

Gunther tries to sustain honour and human trust in his risky job. Nimbly, he shifts from following Issa to follow his money for a larger prey. He sets up Issa's donation to the legitimate Moslem community in order to catch the illegal siphoning of charitable funds for terrorist uses. In return he promises to protect the tortured Issa by getting him political refugee status in Germany. Gunther tries to save the German lawyer Richter (Rachel McAdams) from dangerous engagement. He wants to save the Imam, whose son has been Bachmann's protected informer, from destruction by recruiting him as informer.

Those honourable intentions — and any resultant intelligence benefits — are thwarted when the American agent conspires with the German officials to steal both Issa and the imam, to parade them as their counter-espionage successes. That should compensate for the shame of the 9/11 attacks, which were planned in Homburg. As Le Carre updates his setting from the Cold War, Europe is uncomfortably Islamified and there is poor prevention of the funding of terrorists.

As we know from the genre, the pressures, importance and dangers of Gunther's 24/7 job drive him to the relief of booze, cigarettes — and too rarely a spell of Bach at the piano. When he kisses his loyal aide as a ploy to prevent suspicion, her reaction suggests the well of passionate engagement he is denying them both.

Perhaps our first sense of Gunther is the opening shot, a stone wall solid against the thrashing tide of dirty water from which Issa rises. The young man is at once a terrorist threat and an innocent, idealistic victim of both an evil father and real-life stereotyping (aka ethnic profiling).

Gunther's emotionally drained state, his alcoholic numbing and his smoking stimulation, and most of all his deep dead eyes gain power from our knowledge of Hoffman's suicidal overdose. Nowhere is there a better example of Rene Clair's observation that cinema shows us people dying. Usually we see the actors frozen and preserved in an earlier state, the state they leave as they live and move towards off-screen death. Here we see Hoffman literally played out. He's a solid wall but he has suffered too many sullied waves.

In this plot Gunther replays his defeat in Lebanon. The Americans mess up the situation and Gunther carries the can. Gunther's integrity and the value of his commitments to people are betrayed by the impersonal, narrower interests of the larger machine. His German nemesis wears the thin lips and wire glasses of the classic officious Nazi. The American betrayer is more appealingly packaged as the efficient executive (Robin Wright) but she's equally unprincipled, self-serving and disastrous. Gunther's reaction to the betrayal, which violates his promises and integrity and as well frustrates his plans for continuing intelligence, is a scream that would do Munch proud.

The last shot works powerfully on both the plot and persona levels. In the plot, Gunther stomps off in anger and frustration, out of the frame. We're left to wonder if this new betrayal will drive him out of the game. Yes, if the honourable man has taken too many assaults on his honour. No, if he's as addicted to the adrenalin of his work as he is to his benumbing.The Le Carre hero is dedicated to achieving whatever honest service he can manage in the cold system.

In the persona, the film closes on a shot of a taxi's front seat, focused on the steering wheel. The cab driver, that Gunther was pretending to be, is gone. Gunther is gone. Worse, the actor Hoffman is gone. The shot speaks of vacancy, that began with Gunther's eyes and has now removed not just him but Hoffman entirely. As the pounded wall represented Gunther in the first shot, absence defines him (and Hoffman) in the last.

Finally, this film makes Anton Corbijn an emerging auteur to follow. He graduated from music videos to Control (2007) a dramatization of Joy Division's complicated singer Ian Curtis and his suicide at 23. In The American (2010) George Clooney plays a master assassin whose last assignment, to Italy, tempts him to a possibly fatal life change. Corbijn appears drawn to high-risk torn figures whose success fails to serve their human needs. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.
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2/10
Wow pretty lame
mafries011 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It is going to be very difficult to write a ten line review for this film considering nothing happened for two hours. The movie started out slow and I kept wondering when it was going to pick up... it never did. The guy who is supposed to be the "suspected" terrorist didn't speak more than 10 times in the movie. He just moped around and looked like a creeper. Next Rachel McAdams' character knows nothing about this guy but offers to take him in. Even when she reads a news article about a suicide bombing and he states "gods will" she's still willing to stick around and help this guy. soooo.... obviously she has issues. Next... spoiler alert.... the real "bad guy" is caught by just signing a paper. The two hour movie led up to A GUY...SIGNING....A PIECE.... OF PAPER. Worst bad guy/villain in any movie I have ever seen. The previews before the film were more interesting and had more action than this movie. Please spare yourself the two hours and pick a different movie.... Whoever thought it was a good idea to waste millions of dollars producing a film about a guy who signs a piece of paper should seriously rethink their career.
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3/10
Escape while you can
drjgardner25 July 2014
This film is so boring it's really hard to describe. If you like long periods of watching Philip Seymour Hoffman driving in his car, or standing around smoking, then this is your kind of film. This film is so slow it's even slow for a John le Carre book. The film is so slow you don't have to worry about a toilet break. In fact, you'll probably see more action in the hallway than you will in the film.

If you haven't guessed, I'm an action junkie when it comes to spy films. But I can also enjoy the "Tinker Tailor" type of film because I enjoy good acting and good direction. But this film has neither. The actors are uniformly poor. Only Grigoriy Dobrygin does a good job. And who came up with the idea of asking Hoffman, William Dafoe, Rachel McAdams et al to use a German accent. It's pathetic. They flip in and out of their attempts, but even at their best it's comical.

Poor acting and dreadful direction are only two of the problems here. An overly enthusiastic musical score will try to convince you that something is happening, but it isn't, and after a while, the music is actually intrusive.

Sometime about 30 minutes into the film you'll think about escaping and trying the film next door. But you'll convince yourself that with these talented people the film will come around. It won't. Escape while you can.
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7/10
MILES better than 2011's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
paul-allaer10 August 2014
"A Most Wanted Man" (2014 release; 121 min.) is the big screen adaptation of the John Le Carre novel of the same name. As the movie opens, we see some guy entering the port of Hamburg, Germany in a covert way. We later learn he is Issa, an alleged jihadist who has fled Chechnya, Russia for fear of prosecution. In a parallel story line, we get to know Gunther Bachmann (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), who heads an anti-terror unit in the German security forces. Gunther and his colleague Erna (played by Nina Hoss) are quickly on the trail of Issa. Meanwhile, through mutual connections, Issa is put in touch with Annabel Richter (played by Rachel McAdams), a lawyer defending the causes of asylum seekers. To tell you more of the story would spoil your viewing experience of this plot-heavy movie, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, this is the latest movie from Dutch director Anton Corbijn, best known for his extensive visual design and video work for Depeche Mode and other bands. He also brought us "Control", the biopic about Joy Division's Ian Curtis. In this film, he stays more in the direction of his most recent film, "The American" (starring George Clooney). As you can expect, the visuals in "A Most Wanted Man" are given plenty of attention and detail. Hamburg (the city) is as much a character in the movie as are the key performers. Second, the movie itself works quite well. Compared to the previous John Le Carre adaptation for the big screen, 2011's disastrous "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", this movie is a masterpiece, albeit not without flaws. The movie keeps us guessing for much of the time as to what really is going on (primarily: is Issa ultimately a "good" guy or a "bad" guy?), and that keeps the tension of the movie up (n a good way). Third, this movie is, sadly, best known for being one of the very last on screen performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He does his usual great work, even with the funny faux German accent, but I have to say that he does not look well or at ease. The (literally) non-stop smoking during the entire movie surely does not help. There are quite a few other to take note of: Willem Dafoe as the (sleazy? good?) banker, Robin Wright as the American Embassy envoye, Rachel McAdams as the well-intended asylum lawyer, and last but certainly not least, Nina Hoss as Gunther's colleague. She is in my humble opinion one of Europe's top actresses of this generation, with such recent films as "Barbara", "Yerichow" and "Yella". Hoss brings a much needed spark to "A Most Wanted Man". Finally, there is a nice orchestral score for this movie, composed by German musician Herbert Grönemeyer.

The movie came out 3 weeks or so ago here in Cincinnati but for whatever reason I didn't get to see it until now. Imagine my surprise that the matinée screening where I saw this at this weekend was very well attended. Mostly an older audience I might add. I surmise that this being a John Le Carre adaptation plays a huge factor in people coming to check this movie out. Bottom line: "A Most Wanted Man" is a satisfactory spy-thriller with several stellar acting performances, in particular Philip Deymour Hoffman and Nina Hoss. "A Most Wanted Man" is definitely worth checking out, be it in the theater or on DVD/Bly-ray.
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