Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of my favorite actors and I was absolutely saddened when I heard of his passing. The guy could play pretty much any role, demonstrating a range rarely seen in today’s films. His final leading performance is present in A Most Wanted Man, director Anton Corbjin’s follow-up to his hugely underrated 2010 flick, The American. While I certainly didn’t enjoy this film as much as his previous feature, it’s still a very well-made film, with good direction and a smart script. Perhaps the script is too smart, because a lot of the film is difficult to follow. It’s a lot of characters sitting around, talking about other characters in the film, followed by them spying on even other characters. But it’s Hoffman who keeps the film grounded, delivering an unsurprisingly fantastic performance that’s worth remembering him by.

Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, a German agent who is in charge of a special anti-terrorist organization. When a man named Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) enters the country illegally, he attracts the attention of Bachmann’s group. They are unsure if he is actually a threat or not, but they begin to tail him, in the hopes that he can lead them to an even bigger threat. Things get complicated when Karpov hires a lawyer (Rachel McAdams) who attempts to hide him and secure him the money that was left to him by his father. But Bachmann is eventually able to recruit Karpov’s lawyer and convince her that they need to use Karpov to find the bigger threats. According to Bachmann: “It takes a minnow to catch a barracuda and a barracuda to catch a shark”.

Based on the novel by John le Carré, A Most Wanted Man doesn’t resort to action sequences or gunfights that are common in spy thrillers nowadays. Instead, it’s all about intrigue and it’s great to watch Hoffman try to develop his plan. It’s not always exciting, but it builds up to an incredible final act. Hoffman’s final scene is stunningly powerful, as we watch him breakdown in the middle of the street, screaming in frustration. It’s a fantastic conclusion to a film that definitely needed to go out on a high note. It’s a coherent film, but one with such a seemingly complicated plot where it’s difficult to understand everyone’s place in the larger puzzle. But the one thing that is never in question is Hoffman’s exceptional performance. He may be gone, but his performances will not be forgotten.

A Most Wanted Man receives 3/4

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