From the novel by John LeCarre, this is Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last completed film. As with all of Mr. LeCarre's spy novels, this story is more about intelligence than gunfights and chase scenes. It is a slow, intriguing story with a meticulous performance by Mr. Hoffman.
Mr. Hoffman plays Gunter Bachmann, a German counter-terrorist agent leading a rogue task force in Hamburg. For his final performance, Mr. Hoffman's character is overweight, drinks and smokes too much and has pasty white skin behind a glimmer of intelligent eyes. Physically, he's a wreck but his performance still shows what a great actor he was.
The film co-stars Rachel McAdams as a civil rights lawyer protecting a major character, Willem Dafoe as a banker brokering an important transaction and Robin Wright as a U.S. diplomat with her own agenda. The cast is very good but on film, the story comes off rather dull. We follow the players and we follow the money but the film never rises above a slow burn.
Espionage films without much action depend on twists and turns and a complex puzzle for the audience to solve if you intend on keeping them involved. This plot is not that complicated and almost disappointingly easy to follow. While it does have one or two twists, it's really not enough to satisfy fans of this genre.