By Darin Skaggs
After 9/11 the American public went into paranoia for the country. Anyone that looked remotely like an Iranian got a suspicious look if not an unneeded confrontation. Because of the tragedy many people had to find someone to blame, they could not take it out on the people whose fault it actually was so they took it out on look a likes. Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man touches on that subject while also making a great nod to the spy thriller genre.
German spy Gunther Bachmann, played by Philp Seymour Hoffman in his last major role, is good at his job. He works for an espionage company whose goal is to take down terrorist. His next target is Issa, who may or may not be part of a terrorist group. Gunther and an immigration lawyer Annabel Richter work together to take down a bigger terrorist group by using Issa.
As mentioned before this is an entertaining look at the espionage thriller of days past. The film is made in a way that you will feel tense the entire way through, scared that something will happen to one of our main characters. Gunther’s character is one that you can tell will not stop thinking about his job until his mission is over, and then it is time to move to the next one. And he is not a guy who will show emotion. He is not going to show fear from being attacked or worried the mission will not go well. For sure he will feel these things but never show them. This is all connived wonderfully in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance. It is so subtle and sadly won’t get all the praise it deserves until the years to come.
For the first half of the film we wonder if we should trust Issa or not, we and Annabel get a little bit more information on the guy then the spies do, but we still don’t know. This is a look at our country at the time post-9/11, there is no reason we should not trust Issa but we don’t. It turns out he has nothing to do with any terrorist attack and just has emotional and physical scars from the actually terrorist making people treat him this way. There are a few Iranian characters that despise their fathers because of what they have done. They want nothing to do with that part of their life and want people to look past it. Also the white characters, they are German but clearly stand in for Americans, are all doing everything they can to catch someone who can be potential harm. Another post-9/11 act of us as a country desperately trying to catch someone who could cause us more harm.
The film is a very interesting look at the world after September 11th. It is not a total bummer though it is an entertaining, almost homage to the old spy film. It is filled with great actors doing great work like Rachel McAdams, William DeFoe and epically Hoffman.