A Chechen Muslim enters Hamburg in the guise of a homeless man seeking asylum and captures the attention of intelligence operative Philip Seymour Hoffman’s antiterror unit. Based on a John le Carré novel, this is the sharpest, most reasonable tale of espionage and intrigue since John Boorman’s Tailor of Panama. Those who find excitement in dry-as-a-crumpet-fart British spy snoozers like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will want to stay away; too much excitement is bad for the heart. The cast of international allstars — most notably Rachel McAdams holding her own with a determined Russian accent — is uniformly exquisite. Kudos to director Anton Corbijn for rebounding from his last effort, the unmitigated Clooney debacle, The American. This was to be Hoffman’s last role. If had to make an early exit, at least he did it with style. With Robin Wright, Nina Hoss, and Martin Wuttke. (2014) — Scott Marks
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