Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cinema Won Reviews: "A Most Wanted Man"

And we're back!

      Yes, I know it's been a while, I'm sorry. This past month or so, I finally made the transition into college and now, having settled into classes and my dorm, I think/hope that Cinema Won can start up again. And to kick things off, I wanted things to be a little more structured. So now, we have Cinema Won Reviews. This series will take a look at a just-released movie near me. The weekly series will feature a new episode every weekend, usually Sunday afternoon or Monday morning depending on how busy I am. I should also point out that I am going to a small town theater. Therefore I won't be getting to see every limited release film. And sometimes, like this time, they added a movie that came out weeks before. So yes, A Most Wanted Man came out back in July, but it was the one and only new release at my theater this week, so it counts. And that's a good thing, because damn was this movie good.
      A Most Wanted Man is a 2014 political thriller based on the 2008 novel by John le Carre (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The film was directed by Anton Corbijn (The American) and was written by Andrew Bovell (Edge of Darkness). The film follows Issa Korpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), who flees from Russia to Germany after being tortured. After being taken in by lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), they discover that Korpov is being searched for by a group of spies. Lead by Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), his team tries to get Korpov to use banker Brue (Willem Dafoe) to get evidence on terrorist Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi). And as it turns out, the spy life is filled with murky alliances and lie. Who knew! The film also stars Nina Hoss and Daniel Bruhl as members of Bachmann's team, Rainer Bock as a rival spy and Robin Wright as a CIA agent.

      Let me say this first. A Most Wanted Man is a realy good movie. If you have the chance see it. But, it is a film with a big problem. And one I can't talk about without kinda spoiling the movie. So, from here on out, consider this a SPOILER WARNING. Okay, now that that's out of the way.
      A Most Wanted Man is a movie that is outdone by being really good and not living up to itself. Story-wise, the movie is a bit slow to start. The actual point doesn't start to be clear until around the 40 minute mark and the beginning is a slow ride, filled with long lingering shots to show how serious a film this is. But eventually the film finds a groove. Especially in the relationship between Dobrygin and McAdams. It's excellent to see how the interact and McAdams is especially good trying to navigate the murky spy game. And that's really where the film is at it's best.
      At first, you can kinda tell what's going to happen, who the bad guys really are and what the message the film is trying to say is. But at a certain point, during the dealings between McAdams and Hoffman, I at least had that awesome realization that I had no idea where the movie was going. That maybe what I assumed was wrong, maybe the twist was different and maybe the film had a more adult message to say other than "Politics is grey"...
      But then it doesn't. Yeah, much to my disappointment, the film ends with exactly what I though earlier and on a thoroughly unoriginal note. That's ultimately what weakens the film in the end, but it doesn't kill. The film manages to connect us well to it's characters and as a result, the story remains gripping and intense. And no matter how obvious the ending was, it did make me sad enough and the final moment was a very strong image to go out on. 
      The film has other slight problems. The actors don't really pull of the german accents great. Sorry Rachel McAdams, but it needed work. And while Seymour is great, he doesn't really have a terrible lot to do in this film. He just acts mysterious and stern but also secretly kind and thoughtful or like every other main character in a spy thriller since forever. It would have been nice to see him do more, especially with this being his last starring role. Dobrygin is good, but he too is kinda stuck playing a one-note character. There not film-ruining flaws, but the do hold back what could have been a great film, if it had just taken more risks.

The room is grey like their lives. For realz.
The Verdict

      A Most Wanted Man is almost a great movie. The film ultimately is slowed down by some iffy accents, one-note characters and a generic and disappointing ending. However, the film is a consistently thrilling ride. The acting's strong, the story is gripping, the characters are absorbing and the film never lost my attention. If only it could have ended stronger. Then it's could've made top ten. A Most Wanted Man gets 5 stars out of 6.

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