The espionage thriller based on John le Carré’s novel, like any engaging story, does not tell a straightforward tale. Well, any story too predictable and clichéd is perhaps not worth telling at all, having the same old plots and morals told too many times. In ‘A Most Wanted Man’, none of the leading men are certainly who they seem to be till the end. Then again… Spoilers right ahead! Do return to this review later if you wish to catch the film with an unprejudiced beginner’s mind first.
On the one end of the spectrum, there is a mysterious refugee, who seems outright suspicious from the beginning as a potential terrorist. What is more, he had a rich but deceased father with much ill-gotten gains for his inheritance. Despite all these, he turns out to be someone who wants to dissociate from the ‘sins of the father’, to live a religious and respectable life. Not only is he innocent, he wishes to undo evil by doing good with his inheritance, to donate every cent to worthy charities.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a public figure, a philanthropist doctor, who seems totally respectable from the beginning as a leading spokesperson for his misunderstood religion, who wishes to dissociate it from terrorism. He speaks up for the victims in the name of his faith, asking many to support the charities he is linked to for aiding them. Despite all these, he turns out to be someone who secretly funds terrorists under the cover of charity with part of the money. Not only is he guilty, he wishes to magnify evil through ‘good’.
Before the above disclosure and throughout the film, the audience wonders who is the true terrorist. As the story proceeds, the refugee seems more and more possibly innocent, while the philanthropist seems more and more possibly guilty, yet we are unsure. Perhaps this is the greatest lesson from the film. It reminds us to not be superficial; to be investigative for truth. Mere impressions should never be the way to gauge anyone’s true character. Intentional actions with implications, be they open or discreet, are what really matter.
The duo’s paths finally cross to prove each other’s true character. Since the refugee wants to give money, and since the philanthropist seeks money, it was through the first’s transfer of millions to the latter’s choice of ‘charities’, that reveal their innocence and guilt accordingly. Such is Samsara, where our interactions show our best and worst sides. The wise would use this to check themselves before others, while the foolish only to increase their deviousness. The terror in terrorism begins when some let their three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion go unchecked. While they are ‘the most wanted’, those aware are ‘the most needed’ men and women!