David Jenkins’s review published on Letterboxd:
While certainly a very well made film, 'A Most Wanted Man' was slightly too low key for my liking. The acting from all on-show is impressive with Philip Seymour Hoffman the true anchor to it all. Hoffman is leaving us on a high note here with an understated yet powerful performance. Hoffman masterfully portrays Gunter Bachmann's assured and calculated nature. He commands the screen in all of his scenes and you get the sense that he is a man in complete control. His brilliant performance here only compounds the sadness I feel for his passing. In the supporting cast, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe do well but Daniel Bruhl was heavily underutilised for me. Personally I feel like an actor of Bruhl's calibre deserved better than to spend the film on the sidelines and in the background but it is what it is.
The direction from Anton Corbijn is however something that needs to be applauded. It is controlled and accomplished with the films dark and brooding mood giving you a foreboding sense of what is to come. The film unravels at a slow and deliberate pace with a smart and tense narrative that develops meticulously. Its an intriguing watch but also one that can feel like a trudge to get to the meat of the story. The film often lacked urgency which meant that it would got bogged down in the semantics of its spy-centric plot. This is clearly by design from Corbijn but it felt like a hindrance to my overall enjoyment. Despite the many absorbing characters their conversations weren't as captivating as I had hoped. The ending however was an immensely fitting conclusion to the story and was the resounding highlight of the film for me. It felt like the crescendo to what preceded it and it was masterfully pulled off with Hoffman front and centre. When it is firing on all cylinders 'A Most Wanted Man' is an intelligent and brooding spy-thriller but it also lacked the exhilarating spark that I wanted to set it all alight.