This is a first rate spy/suspense/drama with another Academy Award Worthy (AAW) performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Gunter Bachmann (Hoffman) is an anti-terrorist intelligence officer working for the German government in Hamburg. This city was the home to the terrorists in the 9/11 attack and the Germans want to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. Gunter is frustrated because he isn’t given the trust, staff and budget he needs to do his job properly.
A 1/2 Chechen-1/2 Russian Muslim (Issa Karpov-Grigoriy Dobrygin) arrives in Hamburg seeking asylum. He is interested in gaining access to his father’s dirty money being held at a bank run by Tommy Brue (William Dafoe). Gunter and his superiors think he could be a terrorist so they start observing him. Issa gets assistance in trying to achieve his goals from a left wing human activist attorney (Annabel Richter-Rachel McAdams).
Bachmann wants to lay back and just follow Issa’s trail in the hope of catching a bigger fish but his superiors and the Americans (being represented by Martha Sullivan -Robin Wright) want to nab Issa as soon as possible due to their fear that he completes a terrorist attack before they can bring him in.
The plot is very complicated and I don’t want to reveal anymore about it but suffice it to say that the Director (Anton Corbijn) keeps the film at a leisurely pace but this works for the movie because the suspense keeps building and building. The film also has a somber, weary mood to it which suits Gunter’s state of mind. The screenplay (Andre Bovell) based on the novel by John le Carre is much better than your usual spy thriller.
The ensemble cast is excellent especially Hoffman although it is one of McAdams’ weaker efforts.
Rating-8.5-top 10 film