Director: Anton Corbijn
Gunther (Seymour Hoffman) is an espionage agent in a low-funded anti-terrorist unit in Hamburg. Receiving information that the son of a terrorist financier (Dobrygin) has come to the city to claim his inheritance from a shady account arranged through a questionable banker (Dafoe), Gunther recruits the assistance of his asylum lawyer (McAdams) to convince him that he doesn't want to use the money in this way. Other security agencies have picked up on the man's movements however, including the FBI who send one their contacts (Wright) to intervene.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy worked so well because in retrospect, the convoluted and corrupt bureaucracy that underpinned nearly all British governmental agencies in the 70s is a culture a world away from the one we know now. While a British audience may not know what counter-terrorist units in Germany are really like, it seems somewhat far-fetched to make them appear to be working at complete odds with German security services and the FBI. But whether or not there is any truth behind its setting, the film seems to deliberately shoot its own urgency in the foot by playing out a story that could be told in fifty minutes into a full two hours. Its laboured pace isn't justified by a build-up of tension, a climate of fear, or any mood that could justify its criminally slow plot. By the mid-way point, it's hard to find even a morsel of empathy for any of the characters, simply because you want to clout the director for forcing you through this ode to misery.
The trailer makes A Most Wanted Man appear like an exciting modern thriller, but is really little more than a pulpy version of Antonioni's The Passenger, taking itself far too seriously without the artistic integrity to justify it. The last decade has been flooded with films about the War On Terror, but this sinks far toward the bottom of the pile. With the sun never appearing and their choice of the most grey and concrete buildings they could find, the mise-en-scène is about as mind-numbing as the script, characters and pace. Just as Corbijn's last film The American fell flat on its face for self-aggrandisement, this too is a film that could have been served much better with someone much more focused simply on keeping their audience entertained. Hell, Michael Bay could have done better than this.