Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
(MA) Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is set in 1973 during the height of the Cold War. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a member of theBritain’s Secret Intelligence Service (code-named “the Circus”), is forced into early retirement alongside “Control” (William Hurt) — the circus head. Control is being punished for sending Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary for a mission that goes terribly wrong.
The mission was to uncover a spy — a “mole” — who has been leaking information toBritain’s Soviet enemies. When new evidence calls Smiley out of retirement to catch this spy, he enlists the help of young insider Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch). They discover that Control narrowed the suspects down to four high-ranking intelligence officers: code-named Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Poor Man. The trail is cold until rogue agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) appears with a story to tell.
Based on the novel of the same name, John le Carre wrote Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with great authority, being a former member of Britain’s M15 and M16 and having worked undercover during the Cold War. He relinquished a great deal of creative control of the adaptation of his book, requesting only that the film be a period piece with a fresh interpretation.
And who better to bring that freshness than emerging Swedish Director Tomas Alfredson? Having breathed new life into the vampire genre with his critically acclaimed Let the Right One In (2008), Tinker Tailor is his first English film. He describes it as, “A film about loyalty and ideals, values that are extremely relevant- perhaps mostly because they are so rare.”
Stellar acting, direction and photography alone make Tinker Tailor a must-see for cinephiles and lovers of the genre. It is, however, confusing at times, and can be difficult to follow.
At its best, Tinker Tailor is a clever, tense tale of espionage, crowned by Gary Oldman’s incredible, slow burning performance as George Smiley. The acting ensemble showcases some ofBritain’s finest talent, from the scene-stealing William Hurt to Colin Firth who is by far the most fun of the agents, as well as younger stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy who hold their own.
Not your average spy movie, Tinker Tailor deviates from spectacle to become a story about ordinary men who have an extraordinary job. Director Tomas Alfredson mused that, “All of the musclebound guys, they go and they join the army. And the nerds, they are the spies.” Solving the mystery is important, but what’s more important is discovering why: everyone has a motive and something to hide.
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