Overview:  Unites States and German intelligence agencies find themselves in a power struggle over the fate of a potential terrorist threat. 2014, distributed by Lionsgate, rated R, 121 minutes.

Patience Is A Virtue:  A  Most Wanted Man is not a high octane thriller; it’s a slow moving, somber look at the world of counter terrorism.  It’s also an observation of the delicate nature of trust and snap judgments.  The top secret anti-terror intelligence unit, led by Günter Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), relies on its ability to be discreet and patient, manipulating and obtaining pawns in order to strike against the queens of the world of terrorism.  If you spend the duration of this film waiting for action, you’re going to leave disappointed.  A Most Wanted Man  is about the wait and the work, and the art of getting your hands dirty, sometimes without the expected payoff.  Director Anton Corbijn captures both the melancholy tone and the cat-and-mouse approach of John le Carre’s story, using camera work that emphasizes the continuous watchful yet detached presence of not only Bachmann’s crew, but also fellow German intelligence officers along with ever-present United States CIA.

A Most Wanted Man

A Stacked Deck: A Most Wanted Man boasts an all star cast, and each and every one actor brings an A game to the table.  With all the heavy hitters involved, one performance likely to be under appreciated is that of Grigoriy Dobrygin, who provides  a heartbreakingly raw depiction of Issa Karpov, a half-Chechen half-Russian seeking refuge in Hamburg.  Rachel McAdams never quite reaches her comfort zone as the human rights lawyer Annabel Richter, but her effort translates as purposeful unease as she tries to keep her head above water in a battle between government agencies.  And Robin Wright continuously keeps you guessing as the whipsmart, carefully restrained CIA agent playing a continuous game of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours ” with Hoffman’s character.

A Painful Reminder:  A two hour run time will still leave you feeling shortchanged even though Philip Seymour Hoffman is in nearly every scene in the movie.  His portrayal of the jaded, exhausted yet dedicated Gunter Bachmann is the magnetic force that drives the film forward and keeps you hanging on every word, every expression, every movement.  In typical Hoffman fashion, he elevates the already stellar performances of everyone around him.  The loss of one of our generation’s greatest actors reverberates through the entire theater as a painful reminder in his final moments on screen, when Bachmann releases his frustration over his ultimate failure.  In this way, A Most Wanted Man manages to leave audiences feeling both satisfaction and unfulfillment simultaneously.

Grade: A-