Sometimes even the greatest performances don’t necessarily yield the greatest movies.
“A Most Wanted Man” stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a world weary German spy trying to get to the bottom of a terrorist threat and at the same time navigate international politics and relationships. It was Hoffman’s final completed role before his death and he was joined by Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright filling out some of the roles around him.
Man, I’m going to miss Hoffman’s acting. He’s an absolute genius in this and easily the best thing. There’s just something astonishing about how he completely disappears into a role, allowing us to fully buy into his world. Here he plays this spy with such a understated intensity, that even though it’s not seen in him movement you can see it all boiling behind his eyes, or even living in his meticulously crafted accent. Hoffman is also given a lot of acting space to work with here in a slow burn thriller that relies on subtle glances and nuanced meanings rather than explosions and high energy thrills.
Although to be honest I could have actually used a few of those. I mean, maybe I just don’t appreciate the source material. I remember having these same feelings of boredom with “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” a couple years back. These John Le Carre books just seem like they would make a good hour drama on TV, but don’t have enough life to them for the big screen. Maybe if you’ve read the book your sense of investment would keep you engaged, but for me I find my mind wondering quite a bit while waiting for the next important plot point to emerge. Like I said it gives Hoffman, and the others, a lot of wiggle room to act their faces off, but the overall result is that I get bored waiting for something to really happen. Because truthfully, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how amazing an actor might be, if the story doesn’t keep me interested that’s a tough hill to climb. I will say though, to it’s credit, when the movie gets that last act in full swing, there is an energy there that makes for a genuinely heart racing and emotionally rambunctious ending, even if it is only the last 10 minutes of a movie that lasts over two hours.
At the end of the day,”A Most Wanted Man” is a worthy final performance for one of the greatest actors we’ve ever had. It’s a testament to his skill that even as boring as I found the plot progression and story development to be, his keen sense of character and depth still raised this one to a B-