A Most Wanted Man

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
A Most Wanted Man Movie Poster Image
Philip Seymour Hoffman great in moody, smart spy drama.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Some subtle messages about how the main character wants to do things correctly, taking his time, while his bosses demand quick results, regardless of how well the job is done. Based on a past failure, the main character has learned to take his time, so as not to endanger those he works with. A small crime is overlooked so that a larger crime can be accounted for. A secondary character chooses not to accept millions of euros that are rightfully his because he disagrees with how the money was obtained.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is flawed, drinks and smokes too much, and isn't very nice, but he seems to be willing to work hard to do the right thing. Some secondary characters are likewise prone to do what they think is best.

Violence

A woman is abducted, a bag is pulled over her head, and she's held prisoner -- but her captors are the good guys, and there's no sense of real danger, though she is treated somewhat roughly during her stay. A man tells a harrowing story of his childhood. His father raped his mother when she was just 15, and she died when he was born. An old woman and her grown son are arrested; the son is smashed up against a wall. There's a car crash and some struggling as people are arrested.

Sex

Two spies pretend to kiss to avoid being spotted. Several scenes take place in a red light district with "sex shops" in the background.

Language

"F--k" is heard several times. "Crap" is heard once.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character drinks whisky and/or brandy in several scenes (in one scene, he adds something from a flask into a coffee) and smokes several cigarettes. He doesn't appear to have a dependency problem, but these things do appear to be the result of feeling down and out. Other supporting characters are also seen drinking throughout the film.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Most Wanted Man is a spy drama based on a novel by John Le Carre (The Constant Gardener, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). It's also one of the final films of the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. A woman is abducted and imprisoned by the good guys, who need her help in catching a bad guy. Characters are also violently arrested, and there's a car crash. A character describes how his mother was raped at age 15 and died during childbirth. Language is infrequent but does include several uses of "f--k." Two characters pretend to kiss to avoid being spotted, and some scenes take place in a "red light" district with sex shops shown in the background. The main character drinks and smokes in several scenes, though he never appears to have a dependency problem. Though the material overall isn't terribly edgy, the movie is slow and thoughtful and isn't likely to have wide teen appeal.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMNParent August 18, 2014

A Thriller in the Classic Style

My husband and I went to see "A Most Wanted Man" expecting it to be good as we are fans of many of the actors involved. Much like a Hitchcock movie... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 5, 2014

Sometimes too slow for its own good, but full of terrific performances.

Before I type anything, it's needless to say that the performances here are great. It's eery to see Philip Seymour Hoffman now, and this is a bona fid... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 30, 2014

not that good

This movie isn't that great. I think the only reason why this got good reviews is because Hoffman died recently. I think this movie is best for kids ages 1... Continue reading

What's the story?

Burned-out German intelligence officer Gunter Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works in Hamburg, Germany, where the 9/11 attacks were planned. A young half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant, Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) -- a possible ex-jihadist -- turns up, sending Bachmann's people on high alert. Human rights attorney Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) plans to secure Karpov a multi-million euro inheritance from his father. Bachmann enlists the help of Richter and of banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe) and -- using Karpov as bait -- hopes to catch a much bigger fish: a respected philanthropist who's suspected of using a shipping company to finance terrorist activity. But Bachmann's clueless bosses are beginning to lose patience.

Is it any good?

With controlled, restrained filmmaking that allows for mood-enhancing moments, former music video maker Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) is the right man for this John Le Carre-based thriller. With a strong screenplay by Andrew Bovell, Corbijn's highly intelligent A MOST WANTED MAN is patient with its details, uses urban locations to gloomy effect, and revels in soft-spoken, spring-loaded conversations. But it's all centered around one great character, Gunter Bachmann.

As played by the late Hoffman in one of his finest performances, Bachmann is always fascinating (never mind that Hoffman conjures up an impressive German accent). He's great at his job but feels like a second-class citizen due to past mistakes. He drinks and smokes and carries himself in a way that feels caught between success and failure. Corbijn confidently keeps the balance between the larger cat-and-mouse game and Bachmann's own, personal risk; the movie's final moment may haunt you for some time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main character's drinking and smoking. How often does he do it? Does he seem to have a problem? What seems to be the source of his substance use?

  • How violent or fast-moving is A Most Wanted Man? How does it compare to other spy movies you may have seen? Does its slow pace make it seem boring? More exciting? Smarter?

  • What sacrifices are made in this movie for a greater good? Did it seem like a wise choice?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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