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Originally published Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM

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‘A Most Wanted Man’: Fugitive becomes a target of interest

A movie review of “A Most Wanted Man,” an adaptation of John le Carré’s 2008 novel that focuses on a Chechen/Russian fugitive whose hefty inheritance interests several Hamburg citizens. It got 2.5 stars out of 4.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★★½  

‘A Most Wanted Man,’ with Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl, Grigorly Dobrygin. Directed by Anton Corbijn, from a screenplay by Andrew Bovell, based on a novel by John le Carré. 121 minutes. Rated R for language. Several theaters.

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“A Most Wanted Man,” based on John le Carré’s 2008 best-seller, begins with the ominous reminder that the terrors of 9/11 were developed in the poor city of Hamburg, where the film is set.

It’s an effective way to open a movie that tries to cover many facets of the post-9/11 period, though it doesn’t quite make up for the fact that a great cast is sometimes wasted. If you’re going to hire Daniel Brühl and Robin Wright, give them more than the little they have to do here.

It’s left to Willem Dafoe and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman to carry the picture, though even Hoffman is upstaged by a flock of seagulls that seem projected onto the background of one weirdly prolonged outdoor scene. No one tops Rachel Weisz’s Oscar-winning work in the 2005 film of le Carré’s “The Constant Gardener.”

The plot revolves around a Chechen/Russian fugitive (Grigorly Dobrygin) whose hefty inheritance interests a bank executive (Dafoe) and others. Hoffman plays a representative of a secretive organization that investigates the desperate man’s background, Rachel McAdams turns up as his chief defender, and Wright is a CIA operative who coolly claims to be devoted to making the world a safer place.

Always timely and sometimes talky, Andrew Bovell’s script focuses on the difficulty of maintaining a human-rights agenda in an anti-terrorist system that openly despises due process. The director, Anton Corbijn, who made the 2010 George Clooney thriller “The American,” does what he can to keep the material visually interesting.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com



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