A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man ★★★½

The final, completed role of Philip Seymour Hoffman finds him in typical form as Gunther Bachmann, a German spy agent haunted by past failings. Quite portly, wheezily chain-smoking and a ravenous whiskey drinker, he is a man visibly worn down by himself, yet is nevertheless on the tantalising brink of cracking a major terrorist network with ties to Al-Qaeda.

So it is with deep irony that blocking his way somewhat is the CIA, who prefer to smash, grab and deport as many low-level potential enemies of the West as soon as they are detected. He must therefore complete a diplomatic balancing act on one hand and then execute a delicate espionage operation with everything hinging on the outcome of one crucial meeting and the signing of a single signature.

With the coloured professional career of the dishevelled and bedevilled Bachmann now standing on a knife-edge between success and tragedy, the movie fittingly builds up to a tense and rewarding crescendo worthy of a great actor’s final bow.