Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - movie review




Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Just saw this on a flight....

This is a classic Brit show, and if anyone is expect another Bourne Identity, they will be sorely disappointed...
Although the pacing is faster than the Alec Guiness show, which was a mini-series, it will not be for those demanding a car chase, explosions or even a fist fight.

Instead, it is a journey into the minds of a few men, and how the mystery of a mole is teased out, whilst maintaining the action at the cerebral level, and it almost becomes a mime, as Gary Oldman's Smiley does not speak for a good part of the start of the movie, but here in lies the beauty of owning this on a hi def disc, as you will be able to scrutinise his facial expression, in synchrony with the background and how he managed to convey intrigue, boredom, anxiety, and grip your attention with little more than a little background music, and observing his actions and his face.

In a performance where Gary Oldman becomes George Smiley, he relies on an economy of motion and activity, and instead expresses himself through little nuances, subtle tone changes and a use of small actions and the synergy of his actions along with the plot, almost in a deliberate attempt to underplay his lead starring role. Yet in the process, almost akin to when the teacher of your class speaks in an ever decreasing volume, forces you to pay attention to his every expression and word, so you can focus on the minimum he uses to make Smiley come alive. Think of how a small candle can shine brightly in a darkened room, and then see how that works when he stands out in a maddening crowd and forces you to focus on him. Gary Oldman will be a force to be reckoned with, come Oscar Day...


The plot isn't unfamiliar, a mole is found in the Circus, aka MI6, and Smiley has to find out who sold out the Secret Service. He has Mr Sherlock Holmes, aka Benedict Cumberbatch at his disposal, and he slowly unravels how the "Budapest Incident" which was what led to his dismissal, came awry.

This is no Hollywood spy thriller, and eschews the James Bond, XXX, Bourne, phenotypes, and opts for very ordinary looking sorts, who talk a lot, observe a lot, and do a little, in their practise of John Le Carre's interpretation of the espionage world.

No real babes, although there are snatches of bedroom scenes actually, and definition no Bondesque style seduction of the femme fatale beneath the sheets. Not even time for a little shaken, not stirred. Instead, there are flashbacks, parallel acts in which groups of people all play their role to gravitate towards the finale, when it is reveal, which of the four suspects: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, is the traitor...

Look out for some fine acting by a very experienced bunch of thespians. No Matt Damon or Brad Pitt or even Daniel Craig types here. Instead it's a rather seasoned bunch in the summer or even autumn of their acting careers giving their best in a performance which is best described as understated but powerful.


Plot: 4/5
Action: 1/5
Chick Factor: 2/5

Worth a rental, especially if you read the book or are a fan of the British interpretation of the spy genre, but those who want their agents to announce their arrival with guns blazing whilst maintaining a perfectly gelled hairdo, they best look for "Chubby" Brocoli's next martini laced adventure.

A footnote:
From what little I know or from my own face to face encounters with real field people... well, they tend towards the non-descript, and will be observers, and take little part in the action, but are more inclined toward collecting information and simply blending into the background.

Your typical Bond will be far too loud to be effective...

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