DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A MOST WANTED MAN (director: Anton Corbijn; screenwriters: Andrew Bovell/based on the novel by John le Carré; cinematographer: Benoît Delhomme; editor: Claire Simpson; music:  Herbert Gronemeyer; cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Günther Bachmann), Rachel McAdams (Annabel Richter), Willem Dafoe (Tommy Brue), Robin Wright (Martha Sullivan), Grigoriy Dobrygin (Issa Karpov), Nina Hoss (Irna Frey), Daniel Brühl (Maximilian), Franz Hartwig (Karl), Homayoun Ershadi (Dr. Faisal Abdullah), Mehdi Dehbi (Jamal); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Stephen Cornwell/Gail Egan/Malte Grunert/Simon Cornwell/Andrea Calderwood; Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions; 2014-Germany/USA)

"Superbly plays out as a backstreet atmospheric subtle topical cat-and-mouse espionage game."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dutch director Anton Corbijn ("Control"/"The American"), a former photographer, helms the melancholy 2008 John le Carré bestseller, that's written by the Australian Andrew Bovell. It superbly plays out as a backstreet atmospheric subtle topical cat-and-mouse espionage game. Aside from appearing in a minor role in the next Hunger Games sequel, it's sad to say this is the splendid American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's final starring film due to his untimely tragic death. The departed actor, overweight, looking pale and chain-smoking throughout the film, shares acting honors with the always wonderful Willem Dafoe. Hoffman displays a fair German accent as he plays Günther Bachmann, the despairing German intelligence officer, the head of a small free-wheeling secret anti-terrorist German spy group that is playing deadly spy games as it tracks since 9/11 the large Muslim community in Hamburg because that's where the attack on the WTC was planned.

The story-line has Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a newly arrived Chechen-Russian from Turkey with a torturous past, trying to use a letter from the brutish Russian father he always detested, a former corrupt Russian military bigwig, to collect his inheritance upon his father's death and the stateless man also hopes to seek asylum in Germany for political reasons. The illegal becomes the client of the sympathetic left-wing German human-rights lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams). She is engaged to help him collect his Russian father's ill-gotten fortune from a German bank run by the smoothy Thomas Brue (Willem Dafoe). But Issa, the most wanted man, draws the attention of both the German and American spy agencies who are miffed he has no passport and remain unsure of his true identity or what the profiled radical Muslim plans to do with the considerable fortune. To collect this information, Günther coerce's Brue to wear a wire or be investigated for money laundering. Also after this information is the CIA and its ruthless boss in Hamburg, Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright). The CIA boss locks horns with Günther's group after an uneasy alliance they have to supposedly to make the world a safer place.

Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) brilliantly plays Günther's right-hand man, as a woman who has more than a business relationship with her boss.

As the story develops, the devout Muslim Issa changes his mind and refuses the inheritance. But at the urgings of his lawyer, he's forced to work with the German agents. Thereby Issa gets in touch with the respected local Muslim civilian leader, Dr. Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), whose moderate credentials are doubted by both the CIA and German spy agents. The nefarious plan is for the sly Günther to use the innocent Issa to get him to trap Abdullah into giving his money away to his favorite charity programs and in time they hope to expose him as part of a network of illicit terrorist funding activities being run out of Hamburg. The problem is the CIA has different plans and have no compunction in betraying the Germans.

REVIEWED ON 9/15/2014       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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