Grigoriy Dobrygin stars as Issa Karpov, a man who suspiciously appears in the ports of Hamburg after swimming his way to safety. He has done time in Russian and Turkish prisons (although for what no one knows). His father was in the Russian military and garnered an ill-gotten fortune worth millions of Euros. He turns to a mother and son in the Hamburg Islamic community for shelter and help. They set him up with Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), who is a lawyer that helps immigrants get asylum.
Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his last role) heads an under-the-radar anti-terrorism unit of five operatives that is meant to do what the German constitution won’t allow the German government to do. They unwillingly work with both the German government and the CIA. When Issa Karpov shows up in Hamburg, Günther Bachmann sees his opportunity to use Karpov’s money to catch bigger fish.
But first Karpov must prove his identity. This involves finding the banker, Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe). Because Karpov’s father had a deal with Brue’s father, he is the only man that can help Karpov.
Günther Bachmann pulls the strings for the most part throughout by controlling many of the characters involved to get what he really wants, Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), a man who uses pro-Islamic charities to fund terrorist activities.
Can Bachmann get Abdullah without any of his informants cracking or the CIA or German intelligence stepping in?
The overall plot is convoluted, which leads one to believe the payoff will be enormous. However, it’s lacking. The end is one of those where you go back and replay the end scenes in your mind in an attempt to figure out what just happened.
Still, the acting is flawless. Several American actors float seamlessly in the Hamburg setting with believable accents and emotional reactions.
Grigoriy Dobrygin was perhaps the most impressive, despite his inexperience. Rachel McAdams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were brilliant as per usual. And director Anton Corbijn, who has quite a resume of music filmmaking, pulled off quite a feat in this spy film. Although the ending was rather anti-climatic, the film is worth seeing.