In real life, espionage is not glamorous. It’s like police work – mostly plodding detail work and following up and generally boring ninety-nine percent of the time. John le Carré worked in that field long enough that when he writes about it, he writes with a real understanding of mechanics of the spy game. His ability to make the mundane thrilling is without equal and the creative team behind A Most Wanted Man translate his work to the big screen faithfully. They, like le Carré know how to build the mundane to make that one percent that isn’t mundane harrowing.
The American is being promoted as a thriller and that is not entirely inappropriate. The film is the story of an aging assassin/specialty weapon maker called Jack – when he isn’t going by Edward – who realizes that he’s losing his edge and wants out. Of course, when you’re a master assassin and weapon maker, it’s not that easy.