The film version of John LeCarre’s “A Most Wanted Man” may have turned out OK with any of a number of leading men….Set
amidst the post-modern architecture of Hamburg, it has all the trappings of smart, elegant European intrigue films we’ve seen
before. But Hoffman shapes his role as German intelligence officer Gunter Bachman as few others could.
In the role, Bachman is dealing with a conflicted, 20-something half-Russian, half Chechen refugee who has attracted the attention of the intelligence community. Issa Karpov, the refugee, is the result of a rape of a 15-year old Chechen girl by a Russian officer years earlier, now is in possession of documents from his deceased, but apparently well-off, father bequeathing him a large sum. Issa wants no part of the money, and seeks out an attorney to help him find a life away from violent conflict zones, and to donate the money to Chechen charities. Bachman, as well as a CIA agent, and other vaguely malevolent authority figures, are worried that money will find its way to terrorists…
Hoffman captures his complex character, who is at one time sharp, dedicated…even gung-ho…but also rumpled, honest, compassionate, and informed as to the big picture. Others putting in notable roles in “A Most Wanted Man” are Willem Defoe, as the Karpov’s banker, and Robin Wright, as the face of the CIA, who keeps insisting she’s “keeping us all safe.” Exactly how she is doing that is startlingly revealed in the last two minutes of the film, when we are as shocked as Bachman as to the value the CIA places on his pedantic way of doing things. On the way out of the theater, you’ll realize why the ‘war on terror’ will never end….