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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
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By the standards of contemporary movie-making, when the first five minutes is usually an appetizer action sequence with a lot of explosions, this novel takes a really long time to get started, and the conflict slowly unfolds. Gary Oldman does an excellent job of playing the understated George Smiley, who must uncover a Russian mole within the leadership circle of British intelligence while battling old age/insignificance and the loss of the love of his life. George Smiley is the unlikeliest of all action heroes, and this spy thriller the opposite of James Bond. It doesn't have the epic scale and consequence of "The Good Shepherd," which was a great spy thriller in its own right. But "Tinker, Tailor" does work, and is a rare breed of film: a movie that stays loyal to the book while transforming onto the big screen.
What ultimately makes it work is the director's steady hand, his willingness and courage to test the audience's patience as he slowly builds up the plot, just as George Smiley patiently built his strategy to track down the Russian mole.
I did though read a few summaries, knew that it was loosely based on the hunt for British turncoat spy Kim Philby, and went into the movie understanding that it requires very careful attention to keep up with the involved plot. Seeing it cold, I still thought it was great, with terific performances by many decorated actors throughout the movie, and Gary Oldman is fantastic in the lead. In some ways, if like me you see it without knowing the story first, his character is done in a way that helps take you into the story, as he barely says anything in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the movie and just seems to be watching what all is going on. By the end, he has transformed into a strong character that has figured out the whole scheme.
While I loved the movie, even without having read the book to know the full story, it felt like the plot was overly compressed to fit within 2 hours. I watched it intently, but there were still a couple of developments in the plot, as done in the movie, that seemed like huge leaps. Hopefully there will someday be a director's cut that fleshes the movie out a little better.
One viewing tip, courtesy of the Seattle Times movie reviewer - the many flashbacks can sometimes be confusing, but one way to help keep them straight is the glasses worn by Gary Oldman. He buys a new pair at the start of the movie, so the flashbacks show him with his old glasses - for the current events, he is wearing the new ones.
With the release of the movie on dvd and cable, many reviewers have now complained that the show is slow and boring.Read more ›
I'll take the second one first. This a story, maybe THE story, written about trying to discover a double agent who has worked his/her way very deeply into an enemy spy agency. I.e. it's probably the hardest thing for _actual_ spies to deal with, since everyone could be suspect and not only _could_ the mole be someone you know, if you're important enough as a spook you _should_ know the mole. Probably quite well. So the plot is going to be a little harder to grasp than Mission Impossible or an adaptation of an Ian Flemming book. However, this book is closer to what the life of an actual spy might be, because the guy who wrote the book _was_ and actual spy.
The first argument, that too many liberties ate taken with the book, is preposterous. That a character here or there is combined, or that some license is made adapting a 200 page book by a master suspense writer, is not just unsurprising but is necessary. A fair number of this crew also seem to have a terrifically rough time with the fact that Peter Guillam has been changed into either a bisexual or gay character. They mention his 'robust' heterosexuality in the book a lot. If you think about it a bit, there was a very good reason for making that change for the film version. If you don't think of it, keep trying. All of the other changes should be filed under 'necessary' or 'of little import' and occasionally 'an improvement.Read more ›
"Tinker" goes right to work. The opening sequence has field agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) on an off-the-books mission to Hungary for the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, known as Control (John Hurt). Control suspects a mole within the upper reaches of the Service, and asks Prideaux to send back a codeword identifying the spy, using the children's nursery rhyme. The mission is compromised, Priddeaux is shot, and Control and his deputy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are fired.
A restless Smiley is recalled to duty by a senior civil servant to investigate some unfinished business involving Ricki Tarr (a blonde Tom Hardy), a field agent who claims to know a vital Soviet secret and who has gone off the grid. With the assistance of Tarr's desk officer, the young Peter Guillam (an astonishingly good Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley quietly renews the search for the mole. Some old-fashioned detecting leads Smiley and Guillam down a thin trail of clues to four suspects and a fateful confrontation at a house in London.
Although only two hours long, "Tinker" manages to work in the key elements from a long novel, and gets some terrific work from the cast, especially Gary Oldman as Smiley, a weary Cold War veteran whose long brooding silences speak volumes. The 1970's setting of the novel is evoked in detail with hair and clothing fashions, music, and technical props such as typewriters, old-fashioned teletypes, and reel-to-reel tape recorders. The pacing of the story keeps the suspense alive to the end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I remember watching the Alex Guinness version back in the 70s... wanted to compare and contrast. I thought they did a nice job... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Alan L Sibley
Gary Oldman is simply brilliant in this slow pace and nuanced film that I had to contrast his performance in The Professional. Read morePublished 24 days ago by PETER nisius
You can't hate a reboot because it didn't have the gritty lack of production that the new one has. This was done well here with as much granularity as is producible today. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Tokugawa
Possibly the worst remake ever made. Absolutely revolting performances by Benedict whats his name and that Gary guy. Even the amazing Colin firth is sub par. Read morePublished 1 month ago by frequentcaller
I actually expected a better movie given the cast, several of whom I really like. Unfortunately I found the movie to be incredibly slow-paced, and rather difficult to follow. Read morePublished 1 month ago by DanM
Le Carre, as an executive producer of this incoherent disaster has either completely sold out to greed - implications of this began when John Bingham, on whom the Smiley character... Read morePublished 1 month ago by E. H. Robinson
This is a very slow moving g film. It actually put me to sleep. I would not recommend it to anyone, except someone who can't fall asleep one night. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. Richard I. Romer