What really goes down in the underworld of modern-day spying? How are spies made, traitors turned, and how do powerful hands of dark and influential government agencies recruit, flip, and procure members to their team to fight in wars of espionage? A Most Wanted Man, directed by Anton Corbijn and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe, delves deep into the nuance of spying and covert actions and all the immorality in the sordid efforts it takes to develop a mole.
As Seymour Hoffman just recently and tragically died so early in his career, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to watch his incredibly convincing acting just one more time. Hoffman's work was impeccable. His ability to mimic all the movement and anxiety through gestures that anyone in this dark world would be experiencing is genuine and unique. Adjusting his pants, wiping sweat from his forehead, and the way he walks hunched in melancholy, all, while so deadly serious, Hoffman delivers an uncanny nervousness that makes you feel just exactly how uncomfortable a worried, chain-smoking agent would feel. Be uncomfortable - he makes you this way and he exudes anxiety. It is his acting that really pulls the film along into something worth watching.
An extra pull is my one criticism I have of A Most Wanted Man as it comes out of the gate a little slow. I found Hoffman's acting to be the saving grace to the softened pace of the start of the film as I kept waiting for something to really move me....to draw me into its' depths. To build the plot of this story, there had to be a lot of groundwork - information sharing....spying....logistics....ya know, boring real-world spy stuff that had me yawning an hour into the film. However, I sat patiently and patience paid off. Hoffman delivers and is the films hero.
No spoiler alerts, here. The ending is a killer. The summation of all the turning coats from the Chechens to the CIA and threats and blackmail ends in a most wicked fashion with the darkest and ugliest of resolutions with that wagging finger in your face that says, "you should have known what was coming."
With a strong finish, I really enjoyed this film. I want to give it the credit of fine French Wine - a Bordeaux, nonetheless. A wine to pair that would take time to prepare just as this film did....a wine that makes you wait for it to be ready by that age-old technique, breathing.....the 2010 Chateau Seguin Pessac-Leognan. This libation will fill your glass with depth and intrigue. As a 2010, this wine will get better with age in the cellar but if you open it now- and let it breathe and give it a little while to evolve as it sits before you at the table during dinner, you will have a very pleasant experience when this under $45 Bordeaux has opened-up to you, the audience.