It was taxing, difficult watching “A Most Wanted Man” separating the character from the actor; a vital talent, surrendering to the epic battle being waged in his mind, demons devouring his blithe spirit from within; it is serendipitous that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final curtain wraps him in the beleaguered role of a German intelligence officer. Based on John le Carre’s (2008) novel of espionage in post 9/11 Hamburg, Germany; Hoffman plays “Gunter Bachmann”(succinctly speaking in a German accent); disillusioned, corpulent, lonely, emotionally isolated, intransigent in his goal to reach a nonviolent solution in the case of rogue Muslim/Chechen, “Issa” (quiet, pungent performance by Grigori Dobrygin); tortured, illegal, “wanted” man whose mega inheritance is ensconced, impenetrable, in a British bank in Hamburg.
There are proverbial le Carre twists, subterfuge; layers of grey areas provided by American, German, British intelligence agencies; human rights lawyer “Annabel” (surprising, in-depth portrayal by Rachel McAdams) championing option- less, devout “Issa”; keeper of the “cash”, banker, “Tommy Brue” (Willem Dafoe, at his chiseled best); the most complex, intriguing individual “Dr. Faisal Abdullah” (Homayoun Ershadi, is galvanizing as the glib patron of moderate Islam); all invest the film with a mesmerizing narrative; a clandestine, viscous, milieu slowly, provocatively unveiled.
It is Hoffman, capitalizing on his personal hubris, that makes Gunter indubitably enigmatic; shrouded in a fug of nicotine; colossal alcohol consumption failing to anesthetize his pessimism, bleakness; sadly Hoffman/Bachmann move willingly, resignedly, into “that good night”.
THREE &1/2 STARS!!!