A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Andrew Bovell
Based on: John le Carré’s novel
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Rachel McAdams, Nina Hoss, Daniel Brühl, Kostja Ullmann, Rainer Bock, Herbert Grönemeyer, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Homayoun Ershadi
Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works for German intelligence. His current obsession is proving that charitable muslim Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) is not quite as good as people think he is. He sees his chance when a young Russian/Chechnyan fugitive arrives in Hamburg. Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) has experienced awful things but he also brings with him a huge inheritance from his politically less than sound father. But first Bachmann has to gain access to the money and connect it to Abdullah, all while the American intelligence and most of the German intelligence has different plans than him.
I knew that I couldn’t resist watching something with that cast, but honestly Corbijn and me, we’ll probably never hit it off. That is also the case in this film which was boring, confusing and generally frustrating.
Right from the start the movie managed to confuse me because it just took me very long to place Bachmann and his team within the allegiances. And that was mostly due to the casting. As much as I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, having him as the sole US-American in a German team was weird. At first I thought the entire team was supposed to be American. Then I thought they were all supposed to be German – and then Bachmann buys cigarettes in English in a German store (generally they talk English with each other all the time – with German accents of course) and it’s all just… Maybe it’s petty to get hung up on these things and I do admit that the mixing of German native speakers and non-native speakers in native speaker roles drove me a little mad, but when it leads to so much confusion, it just shows real incompetence.
And the story wasn’t actually that complicated once all the parts were revealed, but I thought that those revelations always came at the wrong time, and usually too late. (Some things still remain underexamined though.) This meant that I spent most of the film trying to grasp what exactly which character wants and who was supposed to be the person to sympathize with (in the end the only ones I had some understanding left for where Issa and Annabel [Rachel McAdams], but I do think that I was supposed to feel with Günther. If that’s the case, maybe don’t show him as a obsessed, constantly drunk, manipulaitve egomaniac perfectly willing to kidnap people to get what he wants).
It doesn’t help either that Corbijn is just a boring, boring, boring director. Yes, he has a good hand for visuals and an excellent cinematographer, but I had to fight off sleep the entire time during the film. It seemed to drag on for hours and hours and hours.
With all of that the truly excellent cast (even though I had the feeling that I had seen Hoffman in that role quite a few times already – though at the end his performance really packs a special punch) had absolutely no chance to save the film, so it’s no surprise they didn’t.