2010's, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Firth, David Dencik, Gary Oldman, John Hurt, John Le Carre, Kathy Burke, Mark Strong, Simon McBurney, Spy, Stephen Graham, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Tomas Alfredson
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
- Gary Oldman as George Smiley
- Colin Firth as Bill Haydon
- Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
- John Hurt as Control
- Toby Jones as Percy Alleline
- Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
- Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
- Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland
- David Dencik as Toby Esterhase
- Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
- Kathy Burke as Connie Sachs
- Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
- Svetlana Khodchenkova as Irina
Based on the classic by John Le Carre, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a labyrinthine spy thriller with a perfect eye for detail and intelligent plot full of puzzles and mysteries. Boasting an all-star cast, precise and articulate direction by Tomas Alfredson and hauntingly scored by Alberto Iglesias, the film proves that the intelligent spy film that favours covert affairs and deception over shoot em up action are not dead.
The time is the 1970’s and London is a dour place of muddy yellows and muted mauve. Control, the elderly head of British Intelligence( commonly nicknamed “The Circus”) sends agent Jim Prideaux on a mission in Hungary to uncover information. The mission goes wrong when Jim is shot, captured and later presumed dead. In the ensuring crisis, Control and his right hand man, George Smiley are pushed into retirement. A year later, Control has died and Smiley is contacted by Oliver Lacon, a civil servant with a particularly interesting case. It appears that Ricki Tarr, an agent who was believed to have defected, has unearthed knowledge of a Soviet mole at the top of British Intelligence. It is either one of a few men including; the new aggressive chief Percy, the suave deputy Bill Haydon, the slimy Toby Esterhase or the silently menacing Roy Bland. Before his death, Control had the same suspicions about one of these men and as a result George accepts the difficult task of finding who the mole is in a web of lies, covert information, shifting identities and Cold War intrigue. Prepare for a spy thriller with a precise plot and genuine sense of suspense as Smiley uncovers many things as he nears the mole he is so desperately searching for.
One word of advice before watching the film is to not expect an action-packed narrative, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy relies more on secret meeting, cryptic code names and shifting loyalties to keep the meticulous plot going. It is the kind of film that demands your attention, if you blink you could miss an important plot point or something of significance. There are those that will say it is boring, but if you like intrigue with intelligence then watch this. Tomas Alfredson directs with an inventive eye for detail and framing, capturing the weary existence that these characters occupy in this distrustful world. The complicated plot is carefully handled and you are really left wondering who the mole could be. The evocative score by Alberto Iglesias compliments the melancholy time and the many revelations uncovered in the course of Smiley’s investigation.
The biggest draw of the piece has to be the exceptionally talented cast assembled. Leading the cast is Gary Oldman in a restrained performance as George Smiley. Oldman excels at showing the rather unassuming looking and seemingly cold man but quietly revealing the immense intelligence that lies within him. His voice rarely rises above a whisper, but you can sense the emotions within him because of Oldman’s excellent portrayal. Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds and David Dencik all rivet the attention as the men suspected of being the Soviet mole within the high-ranking part of the service. Mark Strong is very effective as Jim Prideaux, the rather unlucky agent whose shooting opens the film. Strong imbues Jim with both a desolation and a determination that compliments his character’s journey in the complex narrative. Tom Hardy is another person who makes his part his own, as Ricki Tarr who wrestles with his duty whilst falling in love with a beautiful Russian woman in Istanbul. Benedict Cumberbatch is utilized to great effect as Peter, who becomes George’s right hand man in the search for the mole. The ever reliable John Hurt, commonly seen in flashback, is a great choice for the part of the elderly Control. In smaller parts, Kathy Burke and Stephen Graham appear as two staff members who were removed from the service. Simon McBurney has his moments as the pompous civil servant drawing Smiley into the ring of deception. Svetlana Khodchenkova is luminous and mysterious as Irina, the woman who steals Ricki Tarr’s heart whilst holding some valuable information.
As scrupulous as the mechanics of a prized watch and as twisting as a serpent, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a classy, stylish and complex spy film. There are those that will become lost in the many turns and become confused by the many facts thrown at them, but the film succeeds none the less at capturing a specific time and creating interesting characters who populate a labyrinth of uncertainty and intrigue.