In theory, a film like A Most Wanted Man, should be all but destined for greatness. When it comes to stunning visuals, Anton Corbijn is in a league of his own, and a similar statement could be made about the work of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Unfortunately, some combinations just aren’t meant to be, and this is a prime example of that.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, the grizzled leader of a covert government agent, tasked with seeking out and apprehending potential terrorists on the streets of Hamberg, Germany. Cue the arrival of Issa Karpov, a newly arrived immigrant, whose mysterious appearance has put him directly in the director’s sights. However, Bachmann isn’t the only one that is interested in Kapov, and when pressure from rival government agency mounts, Bachmann is left with only a 72 hour window to apprehend his target.
All the ingredients for an engaging, edge-of-your-seat thriller are present in this film, but the problem is, that none of the story’s true potential is ever allowed to manifest. Actors like Rachel McAdams, and Grigorly Dobrygin spend the whole film trying to figure out which accent their supposed to do, while Director Anton Corbijn seemingly spends his creative energy solely with shot composition and lighting. What we’re left with is a film devoid of any substance or real purpose. Hoffman’s portrayal of a jaded and worn down spy is one that is initially intriguing, but after about 40 minutes, he reaches his load bearing capacity, and is no longer able to carry the film.
It is not necessarily a bad film, but it most certainly is not good. I’m not angered by it’s existence, but I can’t help but feel it is a wasted opportunity.