Slipping in between the summer blockbusters comes Philip Seymour Hoffman's last full performance in "A Most Wanted Man," a very subtle, deliberate, and talky John LeCarre adaptation. Hoffman plays German spymaster Gunther Bachmann, who runs a tiny off-the-books counter-espionage unit in Hamburg. Bachmann plays a long, patient game in the War on Terror, breaking German law here and there in his efforts to slowly climb the terrorist totem pole. When he learns of a half-Russian, half-Chechen Muslim refugee looking to dispose of his late, unlamented father's ill-gotten millions, Bachmann sees an opportunity to get his hooks into a seemingly clean Islamic scholar and philanthropist, who is suspected of diverting money into al-Qaeda's hands behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, everyone else in the counter-terrorism game - from the more respectable German spy agencies to the American CIA - wants to make big, quick, high-profile arrests. Bachmann wants to entrap and flip the Islamic scholar, in a game that won't end until he has a shot at the highest-level terror masters. As he puts it, he sees the Chechen refugee as a minnow that can be used to catch a barracuda, and the scholar as a barracuda he might use as bait to catch some sharks. He doesn't want to arrest and humiliate any of the low-level terrorist figures caught in his web, he wants to subvert them, which means giving them amnesty for their offenses.