Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Director: Tomas Alredson

Writers: Bridget O 'Connor, Peter Straughan, John le Carré

Cast: Mark Strong, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Toby Jones, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch

Synopsis: In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control, resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent - a mole - and the Hungary operation was an attempt to identify which of them it was. Smiley had been forced into retirement by the departure of Control, but is asked by a senior government figure to investigate a story told to him by a rogue agent, Ricky Tarr, that there was a mole.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language

1970's Mini-Series Intro

An Epic Spy Thriller Unlike Any That You May Have Seen Before

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is possibly one of the best films 2011. Not only does the film offer a deeply engaging story to immerse it's viewers into it's intricate web, but it also features some of the best performances that you'll ever find in a movie. Gary Oldman is in top form in this film, as he manages to say so much while saying very little. Showing a deep range of emotion, and intimidation without ever raising his voice is quite impressive. The film is based on the series of novels by John Lecarre, who gives readers a deep insight into the world of international espionage. However, I wouldn't expect any kind of "Mission Impossible" or "James Bond" type spy movie here, as this film promises to feature a more realistic outlook on the world of international espionage.

As I said earlier, the film is based on a series of novels that were later adapted into a popular TV mini-series during the 1970's, but now we get to see this interesting tale of deceit and mystery on the big screen. The film features an all start cast of seasoned actors, who many might be familiar with, but what makes it even more special is how unbelievably well they feed off each other. Unlike most movies that have tried and failed with an all star cast, the chemistry between the actors in "Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy" is on par with the same level of chemistry movie goers were treated to with "Inception."

Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth play their parts rather well also, as each of them demonstrates how truly versatile they are in their perspective crafts. Mark Strong displays a rather complex, yet internally conflicted British Intelligence agent. Although we don't always know what his true motives are throughout most of the film, you can still sense an innate internal struggle within his psyche, as he copes with his present predicament. He's not a bad person per say, but his job requires him to do some very bad things. But then again, you can arguably say that about most of the characters in this film.

Unlike most spy thrillers where you have a clear cut cartoon villain, this movie isn't so black and white. No, there's a lot gray areas in the world international espionage, as this movie foretells; where even the so called good guys aren't always as pure as they seem. In this elaborate story, everyone could potentially be a threat, and they all have their own agendas to keep. Which begs the question, who can you trust among them? Or can you trust any of them at all?

The film essentially takes place during the bleak of the Cold War era, Control (John Hurt) resigns after the operation in Budapest, Hungary goes horribly wrong. It's later revealed that Control firmly suspected that one of the four senior figures, at the agency, was secretly a Russian spy. However, he was never able to prove it; hence he used the operation in Budapest to fish him out. George Smiley (Gary Oldman) had been forced into retirement along with Control's resignation. However, he's later approached by a Senior Government figure to come out of retirement to investigate a story told to him by rogue agent, Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy), who claims to have vital information proving there really was a mole within British Intelligence.

From here, Smiley thoroughly investigates British Intelligence's senior agents, while sometimes flashing back to his earlier days with the agency. It's during these moments, we see Gary Oldman at his best, as he manages to convey so much of his character while saying very little at the same time. He manages to come off as intimidating in his investigative demeanor during key scenes, without ever raising his voice and being laid back the whole time. Not an easy feat for most actors to pull off, but Gary seems do it with relative ease. Another thing that was interesting about Gary Oldman's performance is how he manages to capture the same British accent that the TV actor had on the show, back in the seventies; which is definitely a nice touch on his part.

As for Tom Hardy, I know most movie goers will probably see him more as the infamous Bane character in the upcoming "Dark Knight Rises", but I would challenge those same people to see him in this movie as well, as he plays sort of the polar opposite here. Sure, he's a tough British agent that's often daunted with the task of handling the dirty work that nobody else would want, but he also has a soft side as well. This is revealed in a rather interesting subplot, where he incidentally breaks protocol to engage in an elaborate relationship with a young girl, who might have vital information for the British Intelligence agency. It's through this elaborate subplot, we can see how truly versatile of an actor that Tom Hardy really is.

Granted, we all know he can play a bad a** tough guy, as he clearly showed in such films like "Warrior" and "Bronson." However, in "Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy", we see a different side to Tom Hardy that most people aren't used to seeing, as he shows a certain amount of toughness, sincerity, vulnerability and internal conflict all rolled into one character. Like Gary Oldman, Tom says so much through his demeanor and actions while saying very little at the same time.

Another interesting aspect about this film was how it ingenuously seemed to incorporate elements of film noir into it's mix; hence making the mystery thriller aspects of this movie all that much more engaging to watch.

However, that's not to say that this is a perfect movie, as it does suffer from a lot of pacing issues. As you watch it, the film moves at a very slow snail like pace, to where you really have to be patient while watching it. In fact, the movie felt almost like a three hour film, even though it was only two hours instead. But if you can make it pass the movie's slow pacing, then you might find yourself enthralled by arguably one of the deepest spy thrillers out there.

Overall, I would have to give this movie a three out of four. It's definitely worth seeing in theaters if you haven't already, as it presents arguably one of the most interesting spy movies out there.

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Comments 14 comments

Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 4 years ago from London

I saw the film with my family. The acting was excellent, but the story-line was very confusing and hard to follow. You would have had to have read the book in order to understand the film, as so much was left unsaid and unexplained. All six of us felt the same, so it wasn't just me - it felt as though you had fallen asleep in the middle, and missed part of the story.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Fallen asleep and missed part of the story? Listen Diana, I know you don't me too well, so I'm going to let this slide, but I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Whenever I watch ANY movie, and review it for hubpages, I always take my job very seriously to the point that I analyze and break down every single freaking scene of said movie thoroughly; especially the story aspect of it. If i left a part of the story out of the review, it's deliberate because part of the art of writing a film review is to let the reader know just enough to get what the movie is about, while leaving out just enough to where it never spoils it for them prior to viewing. Therefore, I would deeply appreciate it if you never insinuated or made false accusations like that again, as i find the last part of your comment highly offensive, and insulting to my character, and critique style. Therefore, please don't spread lies like that about me again. Thank you.


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD

Thanks to you, I think this or Tree of Life will be the next movie I check out lol. Voted up, and good job.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

lol. Thanks, I appreciate it. I'll definitely try to look for your review after you see them. :)


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 4 years ago from London

It never even occurred to me that you would take this as a criticism of your critique - I think you did a marvellous job, and as far as I recall, I voted it up. I am also aware that many people thought the film might win an oscar. But I still have an opinion of what I and my family thought of the film. And it is only opinion, not fact. The fact is that we did not particularly like the film. Get over it. I had no inention of insulting you, and "flaming" is not my style.

However, I have just re-read what I said, and realize it is ambiguous, and that it was my fault that you took it the wrong way. When I said "it felt as though you had fallen asleep in the middle, and missed part of the story", that was my bad English, and I intended it to mean "it felt as though one had fallen asleep". I do apologize and am so sorry that you were upset.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

I think you misread me as well. I was responding to the last part of your comment, as i wasn't replying towards the rest of it. I know you and your family have a right to your own opinions of the movie, and I didn't have any issues with that at all. If anything, I always love hearing what other people have to say about a movie, as it helps me gain a clearer perspective on things. Plus, I do love it when people share their thoughts on the movie in these hubs, as it's always fascinating to me, as i found you and your families' opinion of the movie. Like i said the last response post I had towards you was geared to respond to the last part of your comment, and not the rest of it.

However, after reading your explanation of the last part, I do apologize for misreading it, as it's funny on how we can sometimes get confused by the written word sometimes. i do apologize for that, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, as I hope I didn't offend you.


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 4 years ago from London

I'm just so glad we cleared up the misunderstanding. Let this be a lesson to all of us that words can so easily be misinterpreted when you can't see the accompanying body language. Somehow :) or :(( don't have quite the same effect!


mega1 profile image

mega1 4 years ago

I actually fell asleep midway in this movie! I was tired and my brain could not sort out the plot and all those dark interiors made me sleepy! I read the book so long ago, can't remember much of it, but there was a lot of rain. The only thing I took away that had me thinking was about the women and their clothing and their hair and how I could practically smell the ugly perfumes of those years. funny huh. I could care less about the "Circus" and their serious shenanigans, and only read the book becuz my husband at the time was really into LeCarre - I would have not been as forgiving of this waste of time and money as you were and would give it 1 star - just for their determination and for Gary Oldham and Colin Firth, who portrayed such a wonderful a##hole! very attracted to Colin Firth, I am! lovely review, Steven

oh - and I would never, in a million years, have cast John Hurt as Control - he's way too bland - Control, was a dominant character and Hurt hardly ever is dominant!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@diana grant

Yeah, that's true. I'm sorry again about the misunderstanding though, as you do seem like a nice person. Although I do see what you were saying in your first post about how it seems like they did leave out a lot of key things out of this movie. I guess most of it had to do with time constraints, but then again, they could've turned this into a trilogy to properly explain everything. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, and for stopping by to read my review. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@mega1

lol. Well, I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the movie though. To be honest, I don't know if this would be the sort of movie that I'd care to watch over and over again, simply because of the pacing is so freakishly slow if you ask me. However, i think when you look at the other aspects to the film, I thought it was fairly well told. However, what really carried it was the cast if you ask me.

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by Mega, as it's always a real pleasure seeing you. :)


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I don't watch a lot of current films, but spy thrillers are certainly a genre where I make exceptions when they are well made. I've read the book and I love Colin Firth so I am looking forward to seeing it. So far I've had no time.


DIYmyOmy profile image

DIYmyOmy 4 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

Thanks for a very informative and well written review. I wasn't planning on seeing this film, but now I definitely will! Voted your review up and interesting.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@Flora

That's cool. I hope you enjoy the film whenever you get a chance to see it Flora, as it's a very good. Have you ever seen the original TV series though out of curiosity? Anyway, thanks for stopping by Flora, as I hope to see you again sometime. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

@diymyomy

lol. Well, I'm glad I could convince you to see it then. I hope you like the film when you get a chance to see it, and thanks for stopping by. :)

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