Just a few weeks before he died of an apparent drug overdose, Philip Seymour Hoffman brought his new film, “A Most Wanted Man,” to the Sundance Film Festival.
It was in many ways a classic Hoffman peformance. The veteran actor played a German intelligence officer who looked like hell (his character chain-smoked and was probably an alcoholic) but did a hell of a job.
Hoffman’s accent was impeccable (more so than some of the other American actors in the film), and his depiction of an intelligence officer named Gunter Bachmann in an adaptation of a John le Carré novel was equally spot-on.
The movie, directed by Anton Corbijn, is set in Hamburg, where Bachmann is tracking a Chechen/Russian immigrant who has recently sneaked into Germany.
Bachmann is a beaten-down veteran of the counter-terrorism wars who believes the wisest strategy is to follow minor players and see how high up the food chain they can lead.
But a rival German intelligence operation and the CIA see things differently, preferring to detain any and all possible threats, and Bachmann must deal not only with the actual enemy but also with other intelligence operatives.
The Hollywood Reporter said in its review, “Hoffman looks to relish this role but doesn’t showboat in an engaging performance that stands as the central point of interest in film set in a shades-of-gray world.”
Added Variety: “First among equals in the fine ensemble, Hoffman brings a superbly world-weary quality to the role of Bachmann, whose subtle methods are predicated on a deep understanding of human complexity and the reality that no one is either fully good or fully evil — an insight that makes for good detective work, and good drama as well.”
The movie enjoyed its world premiere at Sundance and will be released later this year by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
In this video, Hoffman, Corbijn and co-stars Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams talk about the making of the movie. It was one of Hoffman’s last interviews.