I love me some John le Carré and I remain eager for a good movie about the War on Terror, so I’m glad to hear that Anton Corbijn’s adapting A Most Wanted Man, le Carré’s novel about an illegal immigrant in Germany who is caught up in an American intelligence sweep, for the screen. I’ve always been impressed by the way le Carré managed to pivot after the end of the Cold War from the practitioners of intelligence to the subjects of the craft, and the way he expanded his moral critique of international affairs to more carefully trace the connections between governmental and corporate power.
The only regret I have about that development is that I’d sort of like to see what le Carré would do if he built a set of core characters for our contemporary intelligence era, what George Smiley might look like in the War on Terror. I suppose we already have that in Spooks (which, if you are not watching it already is a grievous error you should rectify immediately) and Sir Harry Pearce. In the U.S., it’s impossible to tell stories about the War on Terror right now without making your heroes either righteous ass-kickers or saintly guardians of civil liberties. You need narrators who can come at the issues sideways to provide actual clarity on them, and the U.K., as an important ally that isn’t a key driver of the current conflict, is well-positioned to provide that perspective.