Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
Anton Corbjin's cold and sterile 'A Most Wanted Man' as we all know was Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last completed film role (although we also know that Mockingjay Part 2 is coming, with Hoffman's role incomplete). It centres around a post 9/11 world but fails to use the genuine real world fears that our political landscape is in as a result. Firstly I have to say that the whole 'accents' thing is a distraction. Hoffman rises above his accent, although he doesn't particularly nail it. Willem Dafoe is frankly awful to listen to in this film, his accent is so phony and even feels like its been tinkered (tailored, soldered, spied) with in post production. It is slightly jarring when clearly these are German characters speaking in English with accents, especially in the few moments where the German language is actually used. Sometimes this isn't an issue, it really depends on whether the film is good enough to ignore it like Fincher's 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' which just about gets away with it for me.
A problem I had with the film is the pacing, which was slow. Slow doesn't especially bother me if what is happening on screen is captivating to watch but I felt the film was lacking in tension for the most part and the film lacked any real atmosphere. One of the reasons for this is the cinematography. If you look at 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' the cinematography resisted the temptation of being smooth around the edges, it was murky, dingy and reveled in the drab, smoky rooms in which the film took place. In 'A Most Wanted Man' the photography is too clean, too sterile and even though it isn't the same film as TTSS it would have benefited from approaching it's visual style in the same way in my opinion. I suppose you could argue that the film looks cleaner because it is set in modern times as opposed to TTSS's period setting though.
Ultimately it falls on Hoffman's shoes to keep this one engaging but in all honesty he is fighting a losing battle. 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' is a largely superior Le Carre adaptation that is slow moving but intriguing and tense at the same time, featuring more than one decent performance. This one is cold and unengaging and doesn't fill it's slow paced film with anything to grab your attention for too long. It is a shame because films like this often grab my attention, I expected the same from this. Watch it for Hoffman though, he especially handles the final scene to perfection, if only the rest of the film made me care! It is kind of side to see him walk off screen the way he does. If you have any interest in the mans much missed talents you should still check this one out.