A Most Wanted Man

2014-10-24 10:34
What its about:

When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest. As the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man’s true identity: oppressed victim or religious extremist?

A contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue, love, rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension throughout.

What we thought:

Today’s world is one where the biggest threat to nations is the rise of religious extremism, spurred on by the continued military and economic interference of the West (cough cough, USA, cough cough).

With the rise of our most extreme group yet, ISIS, A Most Wanted Man (same author as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) couldn’t come out at a better time. But instead of another film showing the ‘evils’ of extremism, it highlights rather the arrogance of those tasked to protect their countries against this these threats.

A young Islamic man, tortured by the Russians, arrives in Hamburg, Germany, to find his father’s fortune, asylum and a new life. In the age of heightened security, his arrival doesn’t go unnoticed and his past ties to extremist groups make him a target for a special ops team. His asylum lawyer becomes embroiled in a game of cat and mouse as the head of the ops team wants to catch a bigger fish – a prominent philanthropist who secretly sends funds to extremist groups in the Middle East.

The head spy, Gunther (Philip Seymour Hoffman) wants to play the long game and turn targets into assets, using them as stepping stones to the head of the snake. And this all seems like a good game plan to anyone watching the film. Then you get the Americans. They get no love from this British-made film and at the end you will have a very distinct distaste for their gung-ho attitude in countries that aren’t theirs.

The beauty of this film is its portrayal of who is the villain. Of course extremists will always be the villains, but A Most Wanted Man looks at it from a deeper, personal level of the individuals affected by terrorism other than being the victim of an attack. Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin), the man labelled a terrorist before he has done anything. Annabel (Rachel McAdams), the lawyer trying to keep her client from Guantanamo. Gunther, a man frustrated by the impatience of his higher ups. And all the people Gunther has ensnared in his web of intelligence, using all kinds of tactics to keep them in his control. He uses the one to catch the other, but after a while you ask yourself: where will it end?

I can’t even begin to describe the amazingness of the performances of the whole cast. Hoffman has added another feather to his acting legacy, and after this the last time we will see him is in the final instalment of The Hunger Games. His emotional range is astounding and it’s sad to know that we won’t see any more of that brilliance. McAdams has come a long way from her Mean Girls days and this role cements her dramatic repertoire. Russian actor Dobrygin is an inspiring talent and has an intensity in his acting that was heart-wrenching. I sincerely hope he breaks into bigger films as his talent is astounding. Shed a few tears for his character.

I would advise everyone to go see this film, not just for the great performances and thrilling story, but also for perspective you’ll get when you next read or watch another news story about what’s going on in the world of terrorism. You will always know about the end result, but we will never be privy to what led up to the conclusion. And that the American government sucks.

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