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Tuesday, 28 October 2014



A Most Wanted Man is Philip Seymour Hoffman's final film, and really doesn't have much more to recommend it than that.

Based on a John Le Carré novel, PSH's character is Gunther Bachmann, a German spy who runs a small, covert team in the northern city of Hamburg that are attempting to track the funding of Muslim extremism in Germany.

Isa Karpov, a Chechen tortured by the Russians, turns up in the city, with a desire to make up for his Russian father's crimes, and a hope to be allowed to stay in Germany. He is helped by Rachel McAdams, who plays an idealistic lawyer Annabel Richter, involved in a human rights organisation.

And then a lot of nothing happens. There are long, slow shots of PSH drinking or smoking, quick meetings on ferry boats, the occasional conversation that attempts to move the thin plot along, and all the time you are waiting for something like a story to develop. And it never really does.

The action meanders over and back between meeting rooms, safe houses and the street. The other German security agencies are simplistically portrayed as brutal and dumb, and we are somehow supposed to see Gunther and his team as sympathetic characters, the best of a bad lot.

Yet the whole thing is so limp and lacking in insight, energy or any real explanation. We only get to see the surface of things and characters, none of their true motivations are revealed, in fact there are no real revelations of any significance at all. There is almost no drama, and for a spy film, little real tension. A sad way for a great actor to go out.


This, the second Sin City movie, follows on from the first film in the series, and is more of the same.

Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke are all back in the same roles, playing their damaged, violent, brooding characters. The movie is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, and retains the visual style of the original, the action is semi-animated and semi-live action, giving the whole film a curious, dream-like quality.

Apart from the visuals, though, there is really nothing else to recommend in this film. It is filled with pointless, stupid, stylized violence.  Practically everyone in the film dies or is mutilated. There are lakes of blood, and piles of bodies.

The violence becomes so commonplace that you don't even notice all the death and blood and mutilation.

The various bad guys (and gals) in the story have the usual array of goons protecting their residences, but these muscled cutthroats get murdered in their hundreds by the collected stars of Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and Josh Brolin.

It attempts to ape the style of film noir, and achieves this, but there is no subtlety, no light relief, nothing beyond the stylized visuals and the choreographed mayhem.

This second Sin City movie is a triumph of style over substance. Utterly lacking in humour, it takes itself way too seriously.

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