Spy Games – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A touch on the underwhelming side.  So this is about a Muslim (Grigoriy Dobrygin) in Hamburg, Germany, who quickly becomes the focal point of a number of spies monitoring the war on terror.  Looking at this on paper, this should spark your interest, because this is the last movie starring the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, excluding his reprisal of Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games.  He is the leading man of this movie, which doesn’t typically happen; he plays the supporting player far more often, and he has the tendency to steal the show, like he did in Charlie Wilson’s War and in Punch-Drunk Love.  His headlining roles are few and far between, so you would think that it would be a good thing that a film where he has the spotlight is his sendoff.  Unfortunately, this is less than the sum of its parts.

pshIt seriously ruined my day when I heard the news of his passing.  I really wish this movie was a more noteworthy Swan song.

This film came at the end of summer, with counter-marketing to adults looking for a thriller that is not a big budget blockbuster featuring explosions or comic book characters.  It never really found its audience, and the majority of this demographic just saved their money for Gone Girl (which is still in the top 5, even eight weeks past its opening), and it’s not hard to see why.  If you watch a trailer for this, it’s difficult to deduce what this is about.  It’s a similar experience witnessing the entire film; when you watch this, it takes some time and legwork for you to figure out what exactly is going on as well.  I would go so far to call this convoluted, and to make a comparison, I would say this is like a cross between 2008’s Traitor and Body of Lies, two movies that are both watchable, but I have no inherent desire to ever see them again, nor have they ever crossed my mind up until this current moment, for that matter.

rottenThose are two films I wouldn’t necessarily want my movie compared to, despite what other critics may suggest.

I will say this held my interest, but it never hooked me, and as somebody just looking for a compelling story, I was never able to make any sort of tangible connection.  All of these characters portrayed are varying shades of gray, and none of them have any likable qualities, so it’s difficult to actually root for anyone.  Hoffman is the bright spot in this, as he has such strong abilities as an actor that he’s able to add a lot of subtleties to his overall performance.  I thought the finale does save it a bit, as it does ratchet up the tension to the point of you being interested to see how it plays out.  Overall, this is a bit dull for my taste, and if you’re going to see one movie this year that has the words “Most Wanted” in it, you should probably just let it be the Muppets.

A Most Wanted Man (2014) ***

– Critic for Hire

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