Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched 'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Hollywood Reporter Ranks New York's Top Film Critics, From 'Cream Puffs' to 'F*ckers' The Hollywood Reporter Ranks New York's Top Film Critics, From 'Cream Puffs' to 'F*ckers' Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go"

Review Round-Up: 'A Most Wanted Man' As a Showcase for the Late Philip Seymour Hoffman

Criticwire By Max O'Connell | Criticwire July 24, 2014 at 2:24PM

One of the great actor's final roles hits theaters July 25.
0
'A Most Wanted Man'
'A Most Wanted Man'

Five months later, we're still reeling from the enormous loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The late actor had two films debut at Sundance this year just a few weeks before his death: John Slattery's directorial debut "God's Pocket" and the John le Carre adaptation "A Most Wanted Man." The first saw limited release in May, and now Hoffman's final non-"Hunger Games" film is making its way to theaters. 

Reviews for "A Most Wanted Man" at Sundance were mostly positive, but those just seeing the film now have a new appreciation for it. Hoffman's work as Gunther Bachmann is being praised powerful without being showy, quiet and controlled, cold and mysterious but humane. Corbijn's careful, precise direction and the supporting performances by Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright and Rachel McAdams have been praised elsewhere, but at this point "A Most Wanted Man" is a showcase for one of the greatest actors of the last quarter-century. Earlier reviews were published at Sundance, but here are just a few of the new ones.

"A Most Wanted Man" arrives in theaters July 25.

A Most Wanted Man
Criticwire Average: B

Jesse Cataldo, Slant Magazine

The film never gets totally beyond this familiar treatment of spy tropes, but it remains a riveting, handsomely crafted bit of pulp, a comparatively realist companion to the Bourne movies, for those viewers who prefer their intrigue free from flying fists and overwrought conspiracies. And while it's unfortunate to see Hoffmann's final leading role defined by such a stodgy bundle of tics, all united under a baffling quasi-Teutonic accent, the performance has its moments, peaking when two hours worth of pent-up frustration finally explode. It's ultimately an impressive turn, always keeping in mind that Le Carré characters are less full-fledged human beings than living chess pieces, sacrificing any trace of individual identity to pursue some indistinct greater good. Read more.


Kirk Honeycutt, Honeycutt's Hollywood

A secret shadow warrior, chain-smoking and overly fond of drink, Hoffman’s Gunter Bachmann takes all the clichés about the aging spy and makes them new again. No moment is the least boring or mechanical. Everything has its purpose in describing a man burnt by betrayal, hardened by experience yet strangely determined “to make the world a better place.” Read more.


Trevor Johnston, Time Out New York

As you’d expect, director Anton Corbijn’s buffed visuals deliver architectural sheen and backstreet sleaze on cue. But the credibility-sapping English-language dialogue (and Hoffman’s dyspeptic performance, growling like a Scandinavian Richard Burton) sits uneasily with the ostensible authenticity. It’s all unexpectedly uninvolving. Read more.


Jeff Labrecque, Entertainment Weekly

Aside from 1965's "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" and 1979's BBC miniseries "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," few [John le Carre adaptations] have been great. The latest, Anton Corbijn's "A Most Wanted Man," is a bit too subdued to change that track record. But it also crackles with a jigsaw-puzzle intelligence and features a superbly subtle lead performance from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who single-handedly gooses the post-9/11 procedural through some of its slower patches. Read more.


Matt Prigge, Metro

But there’s another reason the lack of characterization works. It means we have no one to trust. Every character is not just morally slippery; they’re borderline unknowable. We don’t trust Wright American agent, but she has a flirty quality that disarms us because it makes her briefly, maybe wrongly, seem human. We think we trust Hoffman’s Gunter, but we’re not sure what his angle is, and he surprises us halfway through by doing something that, at least initially, seems downright villainous. Read more.


Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve

Corbijn is a music-video veteran, but his direction is surprisingly understated and methodical, less concerned with individual images or standalone sequences than with closely watching his characters as they closely watch each other, often through surveillance equipment. Corbijn favors a desaturated color palette that makes Hamburg look like a grim industrial hellhole, which adds to the film’s feeling of bone-deep exhaustion, captured in Hoffman’s dryly witty performance as a man chasing one last shot at redemption with the knowledge that he’s almost assuredly doomed. Read more.


Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

Philip Seymour Hoffman is an island of rumpled calm in Anton Corbijn's urgent "A Most Wanted Man," a glum-out-of-principle espionage story based on a John Le Carre novel. The role demands that Hoffman be quiet, steady, occasionally frustrated, and that he hold secrets — often from us, which is a bit of a shame. This is the last film that Hoffman completed, and other than a few humane flourishes — a bleat of anger, a playful wave to a video monitor showing a prisoner flipping him off — he's a poker-faced riddle. It's our job to wonder whether he's a hero, a monster, or that intersection of Venn diagram where those possibilities overlap. Read more.

This article is related to: A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anton Corbijn


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome