The second review of the weekend takes a major tangent from the action/comedy films this summer has been filled with. From the same writer of the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy novel, comes another adaptation that is sure to provide a lot of questions about the human character. However, if it was like its predecessor the movie was sure to be complicated, require a lot of attention, and possibly be slow as dirt. Still there was hope that this movie would be more entertaining with legendary actor Philip Seymour Hoffman giving a post-mortem performance. Can the legendary actor make this worth a trip to the theater, or should you bypass this movie for some of the future films coming out this month?
I haven’t read the novels, nor did I really get much information from the trailers, so I went into this rather unsure of what to expect. Unfortunately, the uncertainty didn’t help me enjoy the movie any better, as a Most Wanted Man had a lot of factors that were far less entertaining than informative. Let’s start with the biggest weakness: the pace. We’ve all had our share of movies where a part was a little too slow or drawn out that derailed the momentum of the picture. For this film though about 90% of the movie crawls at a snail’s pace as monotonous details are given. I’m sure editing did it’s best, but the direction of this tale can only be changed so much without going too far from the book. This pace was not for me, and once or twice I began to dose off from the lack of new information in a given scene. What was only a two-hour movie, felt more like a four hour movie at times, and at times wondered where the tale was going.
The time frame alone wasn’t the only component that made the movie difficult to follow. Like its preceding movie, A Most Wanted Man is a convoluted plot that is presented in a manner not necessarily easy to follow. Plot elements require great attention to the dialog to uncover, with only an occasional line to help get you to the next level. Unfortunately for me, that dialog was very technical, sometimes mumbled or whispered in a sense that was very hard to understand, and nearly impossible to understand when they spoke in another language without subtitles. Such intricate details with very pronounced writing was a combination I did not enjoy. Sure such complicated premises keep one guessing, but if too complicated leaves people wondering what they had just sat through, which for the ambiguous ending, was exactly my thoughts. Luckily, my fellow moviegoer assisted explaining some of the details that went over my head.
Despite some of the more boring qualities of the film though, this film does have some other factors that were well done. While convoluted, the story is complex and very well developed, helping to give insight into a process that remains classified to the general public. This adaptation does a great job with developing an approach to uncovering the conspiracy at hand, adapting to the scenario as obstacles present themselves to the matter at hand. As the plot continues to unfold, the audience gets to see the emotional turmoil and testing of the human conscience when it comes to spying. Various scenes are illustrations to the uglier qualities encoded in our nature, perhaps even stimulating questions about what you would do in such matters. It’s cool to have such an inquisitive approach, but if you like a little more movie magic and fantasy in your picture, go ahead and avoid this movie then.
Apart from the elaborate delivery, the acting in A Most Wanted Man was great for me. The late Hoffman showed his ability to play a variety of roles in the lead spy, quiet enough to show his calculating nature, yet containing enough passion to fight against the obstacles that stood in his way. His emotional scale was not as diverse in this film, but I like his ability to not overact when he is angry, avoiding sounding like an adrenaline infused lion, as many actors like to do. Refugee Issa Karpov certainly looked the part, but Grigoriy Dobrygin was very limited in his role in the movie, merely sulking and looking off in the distance, than actually delivering a complicated character. Speaking for Issa is refugee lawyer Annabel played by Rachel McAdams. McAdams is a bit higher pitched in her roles, often half screaming and crying as the situation unfolds. While a bit whinier than I expected, her character is still strong, and retains some moral conscience despite her misguided ideals. As for the rest of the cast, they are good in both design and presentation, but there are too many people to cover. Just know the acting is well casted and executed.
A Most Wanted Man is for those who liked the complicated and dry film that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was. With very monotone dialog, elaborate descriptions, and slow pace, this movie is not for most general audience members of the modern era. However, if you are looking for a film adaptation of a good conspiracy book, or having difficulty sleeping, then check this film out. My scores for A Most Wanted Ma are:
Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0