A Most Wanted Man

THRILLER; 2hr 2min

STARRING: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Grigoriy Dobrygin

On the prowl: Hoffman

If, like me, you’re someone for whom Taut Political Thrillers leave you head-scratching in the manner of a nervous monkey, A Most Wanted Man isn’t likely to top your bucket list. But it should because it’s a wowza.


Adapted by Andrew Bovell from John le Carré’s 2008 novel and directed, as TPTs are, for utmost seriousness by Anton Corbijn (The American), it’s set in a wary, contemporary Hamburg. Hoffman is Günther Bachmann, a frowsy spy in search of a fugitive believed to be a Chechen-Russian jihadist, Issa Karpov (Dobrygin). With Hamburg intelligence getting antsy, Günther and his team have 72 hours to nail their quarry — ultimately not Karpov, who has already made contact with a human-rights lawyer (McAdams), but an esteemed Muslim benefactor (Homayoun Ershadi) who Günther suspects is a covert terrorist sympathiser. Desperate times! And since Corbijn’s nimble MO is to unpredictably show rather than prosaically tell, like the wearily magisterial Günther, we too must feel our way through a slippery maze of deceptive ethics.