Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Most Wanted Man Review

Towards the beginning of this year, the Hollywood Universe lost one of their greatest with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Having just seen him knock it out of the park as Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, this news devastated me. It made it sad when I learned it was of a mixed drug intoxication. But I didn't let that skew my opinion of him. First off, we all have our own personal demons and I'm certainly not one to judge. But second, I consider myself good at separating personal life from professional life and I really will miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. Yes, he still has the two Mockingjay movies coming out, which I'm glad he was able to finish, but I wasn't about to miss out on his final performance as a lead actor with A Most Wanted Man. While I thoroughly enjoyed Hoffman's performance in this, I was disappointed in the movie as a whole because I just couldn't get into it.

A Most Wanted Man apparently is a book by John le Carre. I'm sure avid book fans will feel like stoning me after this next statement, but I really have no idea who that man is. The fact that this movie was even based on a book was something that managed to slip me until after the movie was over. I'm not going to speak for the book because I know nothing about it, but the movie itself does have an interesting premise. It's set post-9/11 in Hamburg, Germany where security is super high in terms of the war on terror. In comes this man to the Islamic community that catches the attention of both Germany and the US and they have to make the decision as to whether or not this man is a terrorist threat or not, because you know, the Islamic religion is a fantastic, peaceful religion. It's the extremists that give the rest of them a bad name.

So the premise of "is this man a threat or is he a victim" is an interesting one. The problem is the movie is so darn slow that it was hard for me to keep focused. Now yes, there are lots and lots of slow movies that are really good. In fact, sometimes it's the slow movies that are the best movies as opposed to the fast movies. But this was not one of them. This was the bad type of slow where I was completely unable to latch onto the story or the characters at all. About halfway through the movie, I heard this guy behind me in the theater snoring and it was at that point where I knew that I wasn't the only one having a hard time. But no, in case you are asking, lack of sleep on my part wasn't the issue here. I was full of energy going into this. By the end of the movie, a certain event happened and I knew that I was supposed to be feeling a certain unnamed emotion because of that event, but that emotion wasn't experienced. Instead, the emotion of I'm finally free from this theater was the one I experienced. Because, no, I don't leave the movie theater. I spent my hard-earned cash and I'm at least sticking it out to the end in hopes that good things happen.

Now this movie wasn't a complete waste of my time. I went into the movie to see Philip Seymour Hoffman one more time in a leading role and I was not disappointed in that. There were times where the story line was lost to me, but I knew that whatever Hoffman was doing and for whatever reason, he was doing a great job and I was enjoying his performance. He was especially great at the very end of the movie. The previously mentioned unnamed emotion that I was supposed to be experiencing was one that he was actually experiencing and I said to myself that this man was a fantastic actor. As a lead role, he went out with a bang and after watching this performance I was even more saddened at the fact that he is now gone. Like I said earlier in my review, Hollywood lost one of the greatest this year. He will be missed. Rest in peace Phillip.

If you've seen this movie and enjoyed it or you are a fan of John le Carre's work, this is the point where you will be going crazy right now. In fact, you are probably yelling at your screen that if I had only put more effort into following the details of what was going on, I would love the movie. And perhaps you are right. In some time during my life, I am willing to give this movie another chance. And this sparks another interesting point of discussion. I sometimes change my mind. In fact I do it a lot. Oftentimes each viewing of a movie gives me different insight to the movie, whether good or bad, and thus changes my opinion of the movie. So yes, if you dive into the archives of my reviews and read an older review, there is a chance that what I said during that review does not reflect what I currently feel right now. The Great Gatsby is a perfect example. If you go read my review right now, you'll think that my opinion of the movie is only so-so because that's how I reviewed it at first. But in fact, after writing that review the movie stuck with me and upon further viewings, my opinion changed drastically and now it is one of my favorite movies from the last few years. 

The point of all this is that I'm willing to give this movie a second chance. But not now. I'm not going to spend a full ticket price on it again because if further viewings cement my opinion, that will have been a waste of my time and money, especially since there is always so many movies I want to see. The fact of the matter is that A Most Wanted Man did have great acting, a great score and a great premise, but the movie itself was slow and boring to the point where I wasn't engaged or interested at all. I just wanted the movie to end. I hope my opinion of it changes, but for now I will give the movie a 6/10.

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