A Most Wanted Man Blu-ray Review
Movies sure know how to make the spy game look really sexy. Add a steamy romance between one of the covert people and a real life person ensnared by the scenario and you get some fun flirty dialogue. Throw in some action and you have some nail biting sequences helping add to the unpredictable thrill of our character’s plight. Let’s not forget a pinch of emotional background to add some real investment for the audience into the outcome of our characters. A MOST WANTED MAN must be how things really work without all that previously mentioned fun…and it sure is boring.
It’s hard not to talk upfront about the fact that this is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last on-screen roles. The only things that offer our last few glimpses of Hoffman’s fine acting is this and the last two HUNGER GAMES movies. It’s not that his performance is in anyway weak, if anything it’s another trophy on his acting mantle, it’s more the fact that it’s a dull piece that seemingly wastes the superb talent that is Hoffman. He sells every scene he’s in and it’d be nice to see this kind of energy and pull in a much better scripted film.
Hoffman plays Gunther Bachmann, a German spy tracking Muslims in Germany. They’re hoping to stop the next 9/11 since, because as the movie reminds us, 9/11 was planned in Germany. Popping up on his terrorist radar is an illegal immigrant by the name of Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin). Karpov’s use in this big puzzle will be revealed later, but he eventually becomes a puppet for Gunther’s team of spies.
Other moving pieces in this espionage chess match include Tommy Brue (Dafoe), a skeevy banker, a well-meaning human rights lawyer, Annabel Richter (McAdams), a philanthropist (Homayoun Ershadi), that we should obviously be suspicious of, and a CIA agent (Robin Wright). There are a lot of key players, but they talk and plot at the pace of a snail. The story crawls so slowly, it becomes obvious as to what will happen way before it even happens.
Ironically the movie fails at giving us too much in terms of character motivation for our Western world characters. While it’s nice to see a humanistic side to Middle Eastern people that are being scrutinized via CCTV cameras and racial profiling, it seems unnecessary not to paint a picture as to why Richter is so kind, despite her passive threats or why Gunther is so downcast and pessimistic. It helps if we feel somewhat invested in the outcome and when the outcome feels so obvious, it would be nice to at least feel some bit of dread. It’s a movie that’s so interested in pessimism, it never wants to have a little fun or show any kind of happiness in our character’s lives.
A MOST WANTED MAN may be true to life, but that’s no excuse for creating something so droll. As we’ve learned from movies like ZERO DARK THIRTY, even when knowing the outcome or being bogged down by the bureaucracy of it all, we can still have fun watching some of the idiosyncrasies of the characters and enjoy the constant cat and mouse game of chasing down a suspect. A MOST WANTED MAN doesn’t appear to be interested in any of that. In fact, I’m not sure what it’s interested in. But if you’re to have any interest in watching this, you’ll at least enjoy the hell out of Hoffman.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:35:1) There’s a cold, harsh tone to that movie that helps reflect some of the grimey and impoverished parts of Hamburg. The presentation helps add to the overall bleakness of the film.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Even with some thick German accents, this audio quality allows us to understand everyone clearly. There are no problems of any kind in terms of mixing.
The Making of A MOST WANTED MAN (16:09): It’s a by the books feature focusing heavily on the actors and direction of the movie. It’s fantastic from the aspect of watching Philip Seymour Hoffman talk about his role and how he views it. Other than that, it’s average.
Spymaster: John leCarre in Hamburg (9:32): This is an interview with the author of the book that this movie is based on. Confirms my suspicions that this is based on the experiences of a real life secret intelligence agent. It’s actually fairly interesting despite my reservations about the movie. It actually may have boosted my overall opinion and gave me an appreciation for the movie that I did not have prior to watching this feature.
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