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Showing 1-10 of 628 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 885 reviews
on April 6, 2012
It took a bit of courage to put up the money for this one. It isn't a bad film. Indeed it can be quite good but how do you follow Alec Guiness? And he enjoyed so much support! Alexander Knox played Control while Ian Richardson was the treacherous Bill Haydn. The BBC show kept you glued to the story for six hours. Gary Oldman's film was good. Alec Guiness was great! How do you give a fair evaluation? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy needed the time to tell. With TV you can take your time. You can't keep people in their seats that long. Still if you liked the movie buy the BBC Production. They will undoubtedly consider Gary Oldham for another film, Smiley's People. It's a much easier story which deals with the capture of Karla by George Smiley.It's another terrific story that begins with a puzzling and embarrassing murder. The only other story is A Murder of Quality. Denholm Elliott played Smiley and played opposite Joss Auckland and Glenda Jackson who drags Smiley into a murder case at an elite School. Focus should take its time before it considers Smiley's People. Like Tinker the BBC did a six hour series but you can shorten this story with a quicker pace but they should take their time. In the meantime hey should consider A Murder of Quality. Le Carre wrote the screenplay and it only runs for 90 minutes. It gives Gary Oldham an opportunity to win over the audience with his performance before they finish with Smiley's People.
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on August 18, 2015
Compared to John Le Carre's book and the original BBC series, this is a hurried update of the original story. The details in the book and the original series are what make those worth reading and seeing. While Gary Oldman plays a typically enigmatic Smiley, he does not capture the complexity of the spy Smiley. Good effort and interesting visual story telling, but if I had not read the book and seen the original BBC series, the story would make no sense. Also, the portrayal of Peter Guillame as gay, while stylish and current, departs too much from the original story by Le Carre. And I found the portrayal of Haydon not as compelling - none of his brilliance crossed with ruthlessness came thru. Good eye candy but I would recommend the originals.
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on September 9, 2015
I cannot give this move a good review, because I have seen the brilliant 1979 television version starring Alec Guinness. Some people who saw the movie, but not the TV version, told me that they quite liked this movie. I found it flat and lacking in plot and character development, no doubt because I couldn't help comparing it to the TV version. I thought the acting in the movie was definitely not as good as that in the TV version, especially for the characters of Smiley, Haydon, and Prideaux.
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on April 7, 2014
Some people found this film difficult to follow. One thing that does let this otherwise good production down is that it doesn't do a lot of explaining concerning the characters. I am familiar with the original production, starring Alex Guiness (which is also available from Amazon in a two series set) and produced for TV as a mini-series in the 1970's. In this earlier and excellent production, all the characters are fully developed and you can really get into the story. I guarantee that you will watch it twice through: First time to learn the story line and second time to get all the details and nuances you missed first time around! Having once gotten a good grounding in the tale, the newest effort with Gary Oldman makes a lot more sense and is more enjoyable. I am now happy to own both versions of this ripping good yarn. Treat yourself to the Alec Guiness mini-series (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People) and then get this to round out your library. It's good, Cold War political thriller at its best.
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on April 26, 2012
I have to start by saying that I am a John LeCarre fanatic. I have read every book he has written, books about the books he has written and have seen every movie based on his works many times over. I was really, really looking forward to seeing this film. Unfortunately it did not, in my opinion, reflect the book, mainly due to the liberties taken (Hungary? Prideaux shot in a city not the forest? No...that is NOT what the Circus looked like, Turkey? Tufty didn't die...) well you get the idea. It is also so different than the BBC series and none of the characters in this film "looked" or acted or behaved like how I envisioned the characters, including Oldman as Smiley. But of course Alec Guiness is the embodiment of Smiley...Even George Mason as Smiley, in "A Deadly Affair (1966)" based on "Call For the Dead (1961)" (even though in the film he was called Charles Dobbs) was more true to the written character of Smiley. If I knew nothing about the story it would have been just a slow moving, disjointed "trying to be an espionage film" that made no sense. I wish I could have seen this film without any preconceived notions and expectations but of course that is not possible. I suppose that it would not have been possible for me to initially like this film, but I will watch it again and again to see if I can find the diamond in this lump of coal and it will remain in my library as an example of a different perspective and interpretation of the extraordinary novel it is based on. It is a well crafted film and from an academic perspective, there is much to see here but from an entertainmant perspective it didn't work for me, and in retrospect, it really couldn't.
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on March 31, 2012
I really like this movie, although I preferred the 1979 BBC series as it was much truer to the book. The problem isn't the acting. It is first-rate. Unfortunately, so many other reviewers are right: too many shortcuts taken with the plot in order to condense it. Oldman, etal are all amazing, but if you are a fan of the book, it can hurt to watch how characters have been altered to fit modern movie sensibilities and a timeframe.

This I think is the crux of the movie's problem. If you love the book, or the Guinness series, you will keep up with the condensed plot. However, the compromises may make you wince. If you have never partaken of either, then of course you will have a hard time keeping up and/or understanding. I admire the effort and the quality of acting and filming. It is superbly done. Gary Oldman does more just with his facial expressions than most actors can portray using their entire toolbox.

I do, however, have no sympathy for folks who think James Bond is what a British spy drama should be all about. The British excel at character development. You either love British drama or you hate it. This is not a value judgment if you don't. However, please accept you may simply be out of your league passing judgment on a milieu you neither appreciate nor enjoy. The majority of movies made will appeal to you, so you should have little to complain about. For those that appreciate enjoyment for its own sake, as well as subtle craftsmanship, this movie will probably appeal to you. If you want something else, better to admit you don't get it rather than accuse this movie of being garbage. It is anything but. Sorry you got bored. The problem is not the movie.
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on August 29, 2012
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a thinking person's spy movie. It isn't the flashy, fast-paced spy movie with an obvious plot like the typical James Bond story. It also doesn't have the overly-done special effects of the typical American-style action movie. Instead, what it lacks in speed and eye-candy it makes up for with classic who-did-it storytelling. It is the story of a British spy, forcibly retired under suspicious circumstances, being brought back in secret by the highest authorities to reel in a suspected mole in British Intelligence. You watch, you guess, you think.

Gary Oldman's George Smiley is a classic old-school detective in this tale. Based on the book of the same name by spy novel author John le Carrè, this spy story is more like a mix of Clue with Sherlock Holmes than the more common western-style spy story. Smiley follows the clues through thoroughly, trying to figure out which of his former colleagues is the guilty party. The only clue I will give is the guilty party was the most unexpected person at least to this reviewer; maybe you are better at guessing these things than I am. Smiley even has a spy within the agency working for him in secret, getting information to him at great personal risk. The story is great but it does develop slower than most people in this day and age probably would like.

The HD transfer and the cinematography itself are very good. In particular pay attention to the chessboard scenes- you will know them when you see them. The sound is very good too- at least given the type of movie this is.

In short, I would suggest any avid spy movie fan purchase this movie. If you are only a light fan of the espionage genre, you might wait until it comes down in price or perhaps rent it instead of buying it. If you are a hardcore spy fan, then you might consider reading the book and the several others that follow it in the series. I know it is now on my to-read list. I give this movie 4 stars- only taking one off because I know this movie may lose some appeal to people who like everything fast and obvious. I highly recommend it.
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on November 7, 2012
This movie was recently shown on satellite TV and attempting to watch it while doing other things was totally impossible. I ended up recording it so I could watch it without interruption. I was really pleased to finally see a good movie offered on a premium's a rare treat. I'm totally enamored with this film. Gary Oldman and Colin Firth are excellent actors making this film even more enjoyable. I figured out the "eyeglasses" which made the flashbacks easier to understand. This movie slowly, but surely, gains certainly made me want to not miss any portions because clues/motives can be a brief blip. Instead of watching my grainy recording, I dropped in to Amazon to buy the DVD. I have a large DVD library and this is one that definitely needs to be added to my's a winner. I also recently purchased the book...a much belated reading. LeCarre's books are a hard read for me. By watching the movie, I now know who the main characters are making the reading far easier plus it adds faces to the names.
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on June 11, 2012
The four low rating reviews remark that this is a slow and boring film. I must say that they clearly have never read the book or seen the original BBC miniseries. John le Carre does not write spy fiction with a view to action, but only fiction that reflects the reality of the spy world.

With that being said, this movie does suffer a pretty big flaw. While the acting and directing was good, the storytelling this movie employed left something to be desired. I'm not complaining about any changes made. They fit what filled a 6 hour miniseries into a movie just over 2 hours long. What I did not like was the pacing and the failure of proper application of showing and telling plot details.

With regards to the pacing, the film keeps an even pace throughout. It fails to actually build tension and drama by not making clear what is at stake. The setup at the beginning of the movie and the ordering of some scenes reduces the overall building of tension. Likewise, with such an ensemble cast, few characters are effectively established. This results in a film which just fails to draw the viewers interest.

When to show and when to tell is very important in storytelling. It is even more important when moving a book into a film while trying to keep the source material intact. This movie does not do a particularly good job of that, particularly in the first half to two-thirds. Time is spent showing one character die in bed and another in retirement when this could be exposition. One whole scene is spent on a fly in a car and another showing a character killing an owl that flew out of the chimney. A party which is only mentioned in passing in the novel is given three scenes. All of this time is wasted instead of building up Ricky Tarr's story and more clearly establishing continuity.

In the end, this film is ok. With great performances from Gary Oldman and Benedict Cumberbatch and good cinematography, the storytelling really drags down the film. It picks up towards the end, but it is too little too late, unfortunately.

I do highly recommend the book or the BBC miniseries for your viewing pleasure instead.
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on June 3, 2014
This is movie making at its best. Superb acting, beautiful production design, and a brilliant director with a talent for nuance. But the screenplay has some significant flaws, including one fatal one which renders the movie incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't read the book. It has to do with the order in which scenes are presented. Combined with the fact that there isn't time to develop all the characters, and it's more than the viewer can absorb. Roger Ebert, to his credit, admits that he couldn't follow it. A lot of other reviewers just give it high praise but don't own up to the issues for fear of looking stupid.

The book is John le Carre's best - it's an excellent read. So go ahead and enjoy it. Then by all means see the movie. It's thrilling to see everything in the book acted out on screen once you know what's going on!
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