In “An Unwanted Man” Philip Seymour Hoffman is Gunther Bachmann, the leader of a secret team working for the German government fighting the war against terror from Hamburg. The film follows a plan to bring down a doctor (Homayoun Ershadi, who was seen notably in Abbas Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry” in 1987) suspected of financing terrorism and Al-Qaeda.
Bachmann works with a tight-knit posse of spies, the group’s intent being to protect as many people as possible in addition to competing with rival government teams and of course the Americans (Robin Wright is on the scene, playing a State Department official) who have their own thoughts on how the tail and ensuing arrest should be handled.
When a Muslim-Chechen man by the name of Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) is found to have entered illegally into Germany to claim millions in inheritance, Bachmann and his team launch an inquiry. The idea? To make Karpov their ticket to taking down the big fish, ie., the doctor.
Dutch director Anton Corbijn’s legacy rests squarely on a body of work making music videos (and he’s very good at that). But Corbijn’s evolved as a filmmaker, too: he’s lost that annoying grainy esthetic and, aside from a very slow first twenty minutes has managed to make an edgy and fascinating thriller and Hoffman’s last role before dying of a drug overdose in New York this past February.