Tag Archives: Espionage

A Most Wanted Man

25 Jul
Philip Seymour Hoffman commands attention in A Most Wanted Mman, one of his last performances

Philip Seymour Hoffman commands attention in A Most Wanted Mman, one of his last performances

Sadly, 2014 has become the year of goodbye performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman. Earlier this year the talented actor who tragically left us far too early appeared in John Slattery’s directorial debut God’s Pocket, and now the release of A Most Wanted Manadds to Hoffman’s posthumous big-screen farewell. (He’ll still appear in the final two films of The Hunger Games series.)

It’s somewhat fitting too, as Hoffman’s role of Günther Bachmann, the head of a spare German intelligence unit charged in the wake of 9/11 to suss out radical Islamic terror cells, requires range, nuance, and an accent — which by many accords, you could see a lesser actor botching to a campy awful degree. The film, based on spymaster John Le Carré’s 21st novel, takes place in Hamburg, where Mohammed Atta set up the 9/11 attacks allegedly because intelligence was weak or nonexistence. Bachmann and his ragtag team take to their task very seriously and are dogged in their pursuit of new assets. Like most characters in Le Carré novels, Bachmann harbors a troubled past (an oversight in Beruit gets some unfortunates killed) and has little time for anything but work, except good scotch of which he consumes plenty. Continue reading

Closed Circuit

28 Aug

‘Closed Circuit’: Twists, turns, tension and peril as trial becomes law vs. government

By Tom Meek
August 27, 2013


This is a deft, thinking person’s thriller from the team of producers behind 2011’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Clearly they know intrigue, though “Closed Circuit” is less of a brain boggle than the Cold War chess game based on the John le Carré novel. Based on real events, it’s never a street brawl either, though plenty of blood is spilt – mostly offscreen. London is rocked by a massive terrorist attack that kills more than 100 innocents. The means of mayhem is nothing special: a truck full of explosives is parked in front of an open market and triggered, suicide style. What is special is the fact that the mastermind is so easily caught.

082813i Closed CircuitThe rub comes during the staging of the trial. The Crown, for security reasons, wants a closed hearing due to sensitive “secret evidence” that could put the public safety at risk – or so that’s the line being toed by the attorney general, played by a slimmed-down James Broadbent as an avuncular and creepy puppet master. As the trial gears up, a nosy defense attorney (James Lowe) commits suicide by jumping from a tall building. His replacements don’t buy the unhappy-gay story circulating in the rumor mill and begin to poke around too, but they have other challenges to contend with. Martin (Eric Bana) and Claudia (Rebecca Hall) have been romantically involved. It wrecked his marriage, and if a trace of their involvement is evident they will be booted from the trial. To complicate matters even more, the two can’t communicate during the closed-session segment of the trial and only Claudia, as the special advocate with classified clearance, can look at the secret evidence.  Continue reading