Film adaptations of John Le CarrÃ©â€™s books have already enjoyed some praise here at the RBC (e.g., see Keithâ€™s reviews of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). In this weekendâ€™s movie recommendation, we turn to another European spy caper in a more recent film from 2014,Â A Most Wanted Man.
In one of his final performances before his death last year,Â Philip Seymour Hoffman plays GÃ¼nther Bachmann, a grizzled operative working for German secret intelligence. His unit applies unconventionalâ€”and only rarely ethicalâ€”methods to secure information about terrorist groups. Bachmann is haunted by the specter of a monumentally failed past operation, and the pain lingers in his every step. Unlike the clichÃ© this evokes (see my review of In the Line of Fire), Hoffman plays the role with a studious lack of any hint of self-forgiveness. He smokes and drinks relentlessly, and he assumes that the blame for errors beyond his control is entirely his own.