Today’s Prayer Focus

A Most Wanted Man

MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for language.

Reviewed by: Pamela Karpelenia

Moral Rating: Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults Teens
Genre: Spy Thriller Adaptation
Length: 2 hr. 2 min.
Year of Release: 2014
USA Release: July 25, 2014 (wide—361 theaters)
DVD: November 4, 2014
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Roadside Attractions

spies in the Bible

international war on terror

TERRORIST REVENGE—Love replaces hatred—former Israeli soldier and an ex-PLO fighter prove peace is possible-but only with Jesus


About Islam—An Overview for Christians

Witnessing to Muslims

Recommended resources


The book A Most Wanted Man is the 21st novel of author John le Carré, who worked for British intelligence's MI5 and MI6. Other films made from his books include:
• “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011)
• “The Constant Gardener” (2005)

The novel is based on the real life of Murat Kurnaz, a Muslim Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany who was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001 and with the German government's awareness incarcerated by extraordinary rendition (aka irregular rendition) at US military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan and in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba for five years.

Featuring Rachel McAdamsAnnabel Richter
Robin Wright … Martha Sullivan
Philip Seymour HoffmanGünther Bachmann
Willem DafoeTommy Brue
Daniel BrühlMaximilian
Grigoriy Dobrygin … Issa Karpov
Mehdi Dehbi … Jamal
Nina Hoss … Irna Frey
Homayoun Ershadi … Abdullah
See all »
Director Anton Corbijn
Producer The Ink Factory
Potboiler Productions
See all »
Distributor: Roadside Attractions. Trademark logo.
Roadside Attractions
, a division of Lionsgate Films

After 9/11, they needed to take the necessary steps to protect their country.

“A Most Wanted Man” is a taut political thriller done in an almost documentary style fashion . It’s also Phillip Seymour Hoffman final starring role. That’s why I chose and wanted to review this film. It opens with Bachmann (Hoffman) watching and listening to a conversation. We learn he is a spy with a covert anti-terror unit. He, along with his elusive team, are trying to find out if a professing peaceful Muslim is actually funding the same terror group that bombed the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Next, we meet Muslim Issa Karpov traveling to find help. He enlists the help of a Muslim advocate/sympathizer who helps Issa claim a substantial inheritance from his terrorist father.

Let’s start with the acting, it varied throughout the cast. At the top is Hoffman, amazing from his accent to his demeanor; his acting is superb. The other cast members tried but couldn’t match his performance. Willem Defoe and Rachel McAdams give above average performance.

The plot is slow paced and a bit lackluster, but the Hoffman’s acting manages to carry the film and held my interest.

Now to objectionable content, there is some. First is the language; it was unnecessary and distracting. Second is the film’s Islamic aspect, “God” and “Allah” are used interchangeably, which unfortunately is done too often, but is the way Muslim’s understand things.

Why do many Arab Christians refer to God as “Allah”? Answer

As for spiritual issues, I found the film a perfect example of how a Christian can use a film to start a conversation in regarding the foundational differences between Christianity and Islam. Trust is considered a crucial element of the espionage. Humans are shown in their fallen state, and still they are trying do away with a great evil. That is a very compelling angle of the film, and it seemed unintentional.

As for a recommendation, I enjoyed the suspense and the acting. It’s tragic that the star of the film died due to drugs. I feel that the film may be worth the viewing.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy to extreme—f-words (12), Christ (1), “For Christ's sake” (1), “cr*p” (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—“A Most Wanted Man” is a British espionage thriller based off the novel of the same name by author John le Carré. Prior to becoming a full-time author, le Carré worked for both MI5 and MI6. Thus, it’s very likely that le Carré draws upon his own experiences from his days in British intelligence when writing his stories. If you have not read the book for “A Most Wanted Man,” the story is still easy to follow. The film itself is more so dialogue than action, although very entertaining.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays as Günther Bachmann, a German spy most likely working for the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst). He states that he works for some type of anti-terror unit, but he never actually uses the acronym BND. However, there is one part where the BND insignia is displayed on a side of a building—most likely the BND headquarters. Bachman’s sole task in the film is the monitoring of Dr. Faisal Abdullah—an important Muslim figure who gives large sums of money to different charities. Other characters are monitored, but Abdullah is the target. Each time the money is donated, some of it goes up missing. Bachmann’s theory is that some of the stolen money is being used under a substitute charity which then funnels money to radical Muslims and terrorists. If Bachmann is correct, this would make Abdullah a supporter of terrorists and a man of interest to German intelligence (BND).

For first time viewers, that is all one really needs to know prior to seeing the film. Personality-wise, Bachman is not a clear cut black or white character. His character falls more into the gray category. Some may view him as a protagonist, while others may view him as an antagonist. I kind of saw him as a character that used very unorthodox methods to achieve good results. That is, by doing what he does, he intends to prevent evil men from hurting good people.

Bachmann also works and has some dealings with Martha Sullivan—a U.S. Embassy worker from Berlin who is probably CIA.

Since this is a rated R espionage film, some Christian viewers may find this movie offensive. As a Protestant myself, I was not offended by the content. How one reacts to the profanity mostly depends on the individual. There is a lot of religious content in this film. too. Some characters are Muslim and some Islamic jargon is used, such as “Zakat” (almsgiving), “Inshallah” (God willing or if Allah wills), and “Allah Akbar” (God is great). Concepts such as clearing one’s name and redemption are also present.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Paul G, age 25 (USA)
Positive—Enjoyed the film, but really enjoyed Philip S. Hoffman’s performance. In general, this is a tough and gritty international spy thriller which hosts a few twists along the way, and good performances from the cast. Mostly, though, it’s an acting showcase for the amazing P.S. Hoffman, and if you like him, then you’ll really enjoy him in this, his final movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Cooper, age 50+ (USA)
Neutral—To the reviewer: I can understand your distress about “God” and “Allah” being used interchangeably in a movie. Certainly, the characteristics of the One God we know from our English Bibles is much different from the Allah described in the Koran. However, Christian Arabs used “Allah” for centuries before Muslims ever did. Arab Christians still use the term. I don’t think we should insist that they stop either—it fits with their language. Alternately, it’s my understanding that Norse pagans referred to their pagan creator with the term we now insist on using—translated into English as “God”. The leaders of the first churches graciously allowed the Norse pagans to continue using their old word for their false god, which probably helped the gospel spread more rapidly than if the leaders had insisted on making the newly-believing Norse people use a new word. Meaning among the recipients of communication is what matters.
R Malick, age 40 (USA)
Editor’s Note: Agreed. Readers should see our answer to “Why do many Arab Christians refer to God as Allah?
Negative—In my opinion, this was a slow moving thriller about an alcoholic detective trying to find the whereabouts of an Arab-Russian immigrant in order to discover who was sending money to a terrorist organization which was never even proved to be terrorist. It ended bad, showed the Americans as the bad ones, and everyone went home defeated. This was a depressive movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Jan, age 62 (Spain)

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