A Most Wanted Man – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

A Most Wanted ManA Most Wanted Man – 4.5/5 – Espionage styled stories are a very delicate but rewarding tales.  When they are done right, they are wonderful to read, and especially wonderful to watch on the big screen.  I for one appreciate a good spy film.   When this genre hits its mark, it usually is brought together with a good web of mystery, evidential plot elements, slow pacing and great character progression.   I can say that this film delivers on all spectrums, becoming almost a near perfect film.  With a few fragmented elements, A Most Wanted man is by far the best espionage film I have seen in a very long time.

Premise: With a lot on the line, one man and his team must find a way to see the link between a ‘suspected’ terrorist before others do.  Will this man go do anything to get what he needs?  Will it be worth it in end?

There are a lot of well known actors/actresses in this film.  If you would like to see a list of everyone that comes across on the screen, please refer to the IMDB page.  Out of all the main players, I’m going to talk about the main character Gunther Bachmann, played by actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.  In one of his last roles in films, Hoffman gives a tour de force performance.  For an actor of this caliber, you would not expect anything less than that.  In short, he is a calculated but persist leader of this a ‘black ops’ division in Germany.  He is precise with decision making and coldly stern with his interactions throughout the film.   He is in complete command on the screen; and will do nothing anything in his bag of tricks to make sure the plan’s to catch a certain terrorist happens.  What makes this a top kind of acting role is he provides grit and emotional moments through subtlety; not making any point without showing heart for that particular stance.  He doesn’t need to do anything extravagant, leaving the rawness of his abilities through his gestures, motions and smart delivery of dialogue.  If I were to go out on a limb, this would be a role worth an award nomination.  When it comes to his team, the secondary consequential characters and the ‘terrorist’ they are chasing, they provide a mix bag of welcome depth but also one-dimensional archetypes that you will find in any spy film.  Even with this complexion of characters, there is never a question in how important everyone is to the story.  They serve purpose, even if they become predictable plot devices in the end.

The direction of the film follows the traditional trek of a typical spy movie.  In the beginning; the audience gets thrown into a world of unexplained consequences.  The world after 9/11 is built around these teams, with the sole purpose of not letting another ‘event’ happen again.  Once you’re thrown into this world, you have an idea of who the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ are, but don’t really understand the connection or see an obvious vanilla coating for the characters.  As the movie moves along, it is a slow burn, letting things build thoroughly through situations and common ‘spy’ tactical motions.  This methodical pacing (even with traditional tropes) helps provide time for the ‘missing links’ to become connective, showing a reason why certain elements are in motion for both sides.  The slow burn also helps build up the motives of either side, showing not only the reason for the actions, but real emotional meaning behind them.  This helps envelopes multiple layers for the evolving plot, showing that the obvious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aren’t as black and white as they seem to be.  The film begins to evolve into a deeper complexion of themes, playing against the world of espionage.  When the typical directive bends at this point of the film; what becomes even clearer is the evidential factor of how real the world is to everyday life, showing a raw appeal towards the audience.  What you come to see is a very shake ‘trust’ relationship between the black ops division, German intelligence and the Americans involved.  A lot of exposition is played throughout, but it is welcome approach as you feel it deeply, showing something worthy even when the ‘inevitable’ outcome starts to bleed in the background.  This is what makes the film such a wonderful experience.  It takes a soothing approaching to commonality, and blends it with other elements well enough to reel in the audience; so it can provide questions to the whole ‘keeping the world safe’ situation.  You have questions like:

Is the sacrifice of innocence worth it?

Is there anyone you can really trust?

That whole mantra seems cliché, but because of how precise the story is and how great the tone is set through the slow pacing, you are totally engrossed into the tale and hoping there is a good pay off in the third act.   Once the film gets to its third act, it brings the simmer to a roar.  This situational tension is brought in full forces; you believe that someone is going to screw up, get caught, or fail.  When the film does get to the climax, that ‘inevitable’ conclusion does make you bite you lip, as it feels a little too familiar, even if it made sense for the film’s story.  Even for the obviousness, the films overall woven fabric makes it stand out in an amazing spotlight, knowing you did get great thrilling entrainment from something that hits reality in its gut.

The visuals of the film are very simple and grounded to ‘modern times’.  In taking this approach, it allows it move into an ‘encapsulation’ aspect, leaving the film to develop its awareness through the story.  This is good thing for this kind of film, letting a genre specific tale dictate purpose.  With the aspect of the modern cities in Germany, it also allows there to be character infused within the surrounding areas, letting the irony complement both the story and characters.  The score helps add another layer of depth through ‘atmospheric’ elements.  This allows for a seamless flow between it, the visuals and overall direction.  That fluidity helps provide additional tension to the film’s progression, allowing a multi-sensational affect for the viewing experience.

A Most Wanted Man is by far one of the best films of the year.  Another refreshing thought is that it is a great espionage film, and probably one of the best in a decade.  If you’re a fan of great cinema, check this out in theaters before it leaves.  It is worth every penny.

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