Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a dense puzzle of anxiety, paranoia, and espionage that director Tomas Alfredson pieces together with utmost skill.


Movie Info

Based on the classic novel of the same name, the international thriller is set at the height of the Cold War years of the mid-20th Century. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government - which fears that the British Secret Intelligence Service, a.k.a. MI-6, has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets. -- (C) Focus Features

Rating: R (for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Le Carré, Peter Straughan, Bridget O'Connor
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 20, 2012
Box Office: $24.1M
Runtime:
Focus Features - Official Site

Cast


as Bill Haydon

as George Smiley

as Ricki Tarr

as Jim Prideaux

as Control

as Oliver Lacon

as Peter Guillam

as Roy Bland

as Percy Alleline

as Toby Esterhase

as Connie Sachs

as Jerry Westerby

as Mrs. Pope Graham

as Minister

as Mary Alleline

as Mrs. McCraig

as Spikeley

as Tufty Thesinger

as Turkish Mistress

as Listening Woman

as Janitor Alwyn

as Guillam's Boyfriend

as Christmas Party Gues...

as Voice of Karla

as Mackelvore

as French Man at Reside...

as Hungarian Waiter

as Woman in Window

as KGB Agent

as Jim Prideaux
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

All Critics (206) | Top Critics (42)

The movie is riveting in the exact sense of the word: We feel nailed to the screen in the impossible task of working out what is going on-let alone why it matters.

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Even an ensemble cast of a very high pedigree can't overcome a plot that's been compacted into near-incomprehensibility.

Full Review… | August 15, 2014
Under the Radar

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," with its meticulous Cold War details and labyrinthine plot, is like a smoky 25-year-old single malt scotch whiskey. It hits you hard, but goes down smooth.

Full Review… | September 25, 2013
FoxNews.com

A masterful adaptation of John Le Carre's 1970s spy thriller about the secret British hunt for a high-ranking KGB mole.

Full Review… | March 4, 2013
Concrete Playground

For all those that look at the films of the golden age and chide that "they don't make them that way anymore", here's a fine example that a film can be fresh, intelligent, drawing from the past while carving out its own unique and very contemporary vision

Full Review… | February 2, 2013
TwitchFilm

Majestically directed, masterfully acted and brilliantly written, it's not just the best British film of the year but the best film of the year - full stop.

Full Review… | November 15, 2012
Daily Star

Audience Reviews for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

½

It's slow, complex, stimulating and uncompromising; basically an average movie-goer's nightmare. I love that.

Liam Gadd
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer

½

An ex spy for MI6 is called out of retirement to uncover a Russian double agent in the top echelons of their organisation. The one thing that can be said in favour of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is that it reeks of quality. The exceptional ensemble cast present what can only be described as an acting master class and the direction, photography and production design are all top notch. The problem with the film lies with its script, but that's not to say that it's badly written; quite the contrary in fact. The dialogue is smart, the themes sophisticated and characters well drawn. The trouble lies with the fact that this Cold War world of secrecy, back stabbing and betrayal seems so alien in the internet age that it's quite difficult to involve yourself in the dense, convoluted story. I couldn't connect emotionally with any of these cold-hearted and detached individuals and the fact of the matter was that I didn't really care who the mole was. Technically marvellous but those looking for a cinematic quick fix will find Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy too much like hard work.

garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

If for one second you think that this adaptation of John LeCarre's seminal novel taking place during the 60's cold war is not relevant today, then you need to re-examine your thinking. The Spy business is alive and well, and good information is just as all important now as it was then (though the villain, for the time being may have changed).

That being said, this is a very dense, expertly filmed (every frame has context and meaning), vision that somehow is just too British Buttoned Down for it's own good. Director Tomas Alfredson moves the film along at a slow but steady pace - giving you time to contemplate all the clues and red herrings, just as the main character George Smiley (in a magnificently controlled performance by Gary Oldman), tries to work it all out.

The film starts out with a bang - a BSS agent enters the flat of BSS head man "Control" (the always wonderful John Hurt). Hurt tells the agent that he is going "off the books" to "bring over" a Hungarian Colonel who is dangling the ultimate carrot: the identity of a mole within the BSS. Of course, since there is a high level mole in place according to this source, Control cannot let anyone else within the agency know of this agent's mission.

The agent arrives in Budapest and makes contact with a man acting as a front for the Hungarian Colonel. Alfredson does a wonderful job of allowing the camera to follow the agents' gaze: taking in all the people hanging out in and around the outdoor café where the meet was scheduled. This paranoid viewpoint, where anyone and everyone could be a plant or enemy agent is wonderfully filmed and just one example of how every frame of the film is planned, staged and with meaning.

Later, Control steps down (in somewhat of a disgrace) and mentions to the "inner circle" that ageing agent Smiley is retiring as well. Now that Smiley is "outside" the circle, he is now free to investigate said circle and try to ferret out the mole.

So what comes next is a byzantine and complex puzzle with Smiley taking it all in and processing what it all means. There is no James Bond action here, just a very smart, minimalistic man pursuing the threads of a conspiracy. He looks at several of the inner circle, peopled by such European stalwarts as Colin Firth and Cairan Hinds. Firth in particular is a joy to watch as he seemingly floats above the actions around him with his winning smile.

In my mind what prevents this film from becoming the standard for all spy films is that somehow the sense of urgency is lacking. It is as if there is no life or death consequence and while it would be nice if the mole is discovered, one gets the sense that it isn't a deal breaker (which is absurd, for it indeed is - as one spy tells the other "everything we think is gold is shit"). Perhaps it is just this - the action is all words and wordplay - nothing wrong with that (as I'd wish most Hollywood films used a bit more discretion in the shoot em up dept.) - but the tension level never seems to heat up to the boiling point. Regardless, this is a very intelligent film that's beautifully crafted. It assumes that you have a degree of brain power, so it doesn't spoon feed you the clues on a platter... which is so reminiscent of Brit spy films of the 60's and 70's like The Ipcress File and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Quotes

– Submitted by Stuart I (8 months ago)
– Submitted by Stuart I (8 months ago)
– Submitted by George P (17 months ago)
– Submitted by George P (17 months ago)

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