“And all that damage we leave behind. All those lives. All those empty rooms. What were they even for? You have asked yourself that question? Why we do what we do?”Günther Bachmann
Adapted from a John le Carré novel inspired by the abduction and rendition from Germany of the innocent Murat Kurnaz, this is an old-fashioned slow burn thriller that could be criticised for its meandering nature were its explosive conclusion not so purposive and memorable. A Most Wanted Man is obliquely critical of American foreign policy and overreach, whilst exploring the moral conflicts on a personal level for both those in the intelligence services and those who cooperate with them. One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final films, released shortly after his death, he delivers a powerful central performance as an agent doggedly pursuing a terrorist financier whilst trying to protect his investigation from intervention by the local police or the USA. The focal point is a Chechnian fugutive who might be a refugee or a terrorist, an angle that remains relevant a decade later as refugees continue to be treated with suspicion. Rachel McAdams provides the counterpoint as a lawyer aiding the dispossessed, with Willem Dafoe the neutral banker caught unwillingly in the middle, though the film’s coldly clinical perspective limits our connection with any of the characters. A Most Wanted Man lacks the flair and intrigue of Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — for me the quintessential Le Carré adaptation — but it asks more pressing political questions.
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