A Most Wanted Man Movie Poster Image

A Most Wanted Man



Philip Seymour Hoffman great in moody, smart spy drama.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.


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.


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


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

Not applicable
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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 25, 2014
DVD/Streaming release date:November 4, 2014
Cast:Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe
Director:Anton Corbijn
Studios:Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
Topics:Book characters
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

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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 fide example of why he was amazing. He perfectly captures facial movements, vocal inflection, his German accent, and subtle movements like tapping a cigarette into an ashtray. I forgot that I was watching an actor at times, which is extremely rare for me to say. Rachel McAdams is surprisingly good; she's known at being funny and/or cute, but she does well here. The rest of the cast nicely does its job without overshadowing others. The direction is good, but not necessarily great. There are definitely very strong moments and you feel like you're in a cold European setting, but the movie is also very slow, which it doesn't really have a right to be. I was thoroughly interested for the first 70 minutes, but for the next 50 minutes, the film started to wear on me a bit. Some scenes are too long and some plot points are as clearly established as they could be, but you can still follow the story. The camerawork is a bit odd at some later scenes since it's handheld and strangely shaky (even though it's just people sitting at a table and talking). The movie is good, mostly thanks to the performances, but not great or up to par with slightly similar political thrillers like The Ghost Writer or Zero Dark Thirty, mostly due to its pace. I just wish that filmmakers would really listen to the "get into a scene as late as possible and leave it as early as possible" rule. This isn't an art film, so it's not like I'm going to be hypnotized by it, so make your point and move along. 7.6/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
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 12 and up because it is a complicated subject and may be a little boring younger kids who like action so its better for mature kids. Overall I give this movie 2 and a half stars
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent 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, the audience goes along for a journey, as characters, motives and plot are methodically developed. "A Most Wanted Man" is set against the backdrop of terrorism in the modern world where both governments and individuals battle with suspicion and knowing who to trust. We were very surprised that this movie was rated "R" and would be perfectly comfortable having our 16 year old see it. The commentary review from Common Cause Media is spot on with *occasional* language being the only concern. It doesn't even compare to some other R-rated movies, in my opinion. But as the review suggests, it is not likely to draw a heavy teen audience based on the patient, deliberative script. I think the movie could launch a thoughtful discussion with an older teen about the value of trust, public safety and terrorism, government's responsibility for public safety and the means they use in an effort to secure it, relationships between nations, religious bias and profiling--all stories ripped from today's headlines.