When 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 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? Based on John le Carré's novel, A MOST WANTED MAN is a contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue, love, rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension right through to its last heart-stopping scene.Written by
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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