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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

3.4 out of 5 stars 823 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Gary Oldman leads a stunning all-star cast in this masterful adaptation of John le Carré’s bestselling novel that redefined the spy thriller. At the height of the Cold War, a precarious operation goes deadly wrong, and the head of British Intelligence wonders if a double agent is leaking vital secrets. Brought out of retirement to expose the potential mole, master spy George Smiley (Oldman) is the only one who can be trusted to expose one of their own.Or can he? As the emotional and physical tolls mount on the high-ranking suspects, Smiley will be forced into the ultimate international spy game where everyone’s motives are in question. Filled with stunning performances by Academy Award winner Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds, it’s the powerful and deeply resonant spy tale that Ebert Presents at the Movies hails as “hands down the best new thriller this year.”


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is all sleek, stealthy elegance. High-ranking intelligence officer George Smiley (Gary Oldman) was forced out of service when a mission in Hungary went very wrong, but rumors of a Soviet mole hidden within the agency bring him back into play. If the theory of the former head, Control (John Hurt), is to be believed, the mole is at the very top, one of four senior officers, played by Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Firth, and David Dencik (of the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). With the help of a lower-ranking agent with a few secrets of his own (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock) and a field agent who may be a source of disinformation (Tom Hardy, Inception), Smiley slowly draws out the clues he needs to lay a trap for the mole. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy moves gracefully, with brief but unhurried scenes that give a hint of information here, a dollop of implication there, until the larger picture (painted in a cinematic chiaroscuro of grays, blues, and browns) comes tantalizingly into focus. Don't expect Hitchcock-like suspense, though there are a few anxious sequences; this movie captures the blend of dread and bureaucracy that marks real-life intelligence work. Oldman plays Smiley as uncannily opaque and, on the surface, harmless--but his eyes hold a deep bitterness that can turn sorrowful or cruel. The masterful cast glides through the film, their subterfuges and machinations orchestrated like a dance by director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: First Look
  • Feature Commentary with Director Tomas Alfredson and Actor Gary Oldman

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
    • Directors: Tomas Alfredson
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
    • Studio: Focus Features
    • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2012
    • Run Time: 128 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (823 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0059XTTW8
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,063 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    This is a movie that is essentially a time warp. We are warped back into the seventies, when film was more grainy, the camera was actually steady, actors had substance, movies actually had a story to tell, and the audience was patient and intelligent.

    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.
    18 Comments 347 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Probably like a lot of modern viewers, I had heard of but not read this book, nor seen the BBC TV series - Both were issued in the 1970's.

    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.
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    3 Comments 233 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    I hadn't watched this movie in a while, just watched it again, and saw the huge number of one star reviews. I read probably 15 or so. They break into two sets, roughly. One that liberties have been taken with character/action compared to the book, the other that it simply didn't make sense.

    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.
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    4 Comments 70 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is a well-executed adaptation of John Le Carre's classic espionage novel of the Cold War, with a first-rate cast, a haunting atmosphere, and a compelling narrative.

    "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.
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    2 Comments 183 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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