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A Review of The Movie Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy...

Updated on May 27, 2013

A Review Of Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy...

Years ago, when I was employed as security guard, a fellow security guard Haitian colleague of mine constantly tried to entice me to read John Le Carre’s spy novels - but somehow I never got around to peruse the pages fill with Le Carre’s seemingly in depth, inside knowledge of ‘spooks’ and the respective Intelligence agencies that they represented. Today, I made up for my not being privy to John Le Carre’s work by seeing one of his novels, Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy, adapted into the new tantalizing movie thriller, starring the almost, always brilliant Gary Oldman. I suppose that most of the young audience does not know much of Mr. Oldman’s past thespian work, except his recurring role as Chief Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series... but it would do the younger audience service if it were to witness the range of Mr. Oldman in Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy and other past roles.

Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy begins with the recognizable voice of the seasoned British actor, John Hurt, who, in the movie is the head of British Intelligence and who is being pushed aside by ungrateful intelligence officers who he had apparently recruited. Mr. Hurt character (Control) is grating and does not suffer fools gladly, but I supposed it comes with the position and its import. The 70s is the time frame that the movie is based… and is noted historically as an era when the Soviet Union was intact and the Cold War was white hot or tundra cold… with either description being an apt one because of England’s proximity to Eastern Europe countries that were proxies and surrogates for the Soviets.

Like the Kevin Costner’s Movie, No-Way-Out, Control has suspicions that there is a mold - operating, like Homer’s Trojan Horse - among his top intelligence operatives. In pursuing this mold, which may be a phantom, Control dispatches an operative to Budapest to meet a Soviet spy that will confirm the truth about the mold. This mission to Budapest is a disaster… so much so that we see the cafe where the meet took place to confirm the existence of the mold in tornado-like disarray and underscored particularly by a young mother who was shot dead on a bench… with said mother’s baby still nursing on her exposed breast - this was the final straw that forced out Control and his top lieutenant and protégé, George Smiley (Gary Oldman). Soon, word gets to the Prime Minister and Smiley is tasked, secretly, to find out if his mentor’s (Control) suspicion about a mold had merit.

It is a pleasure to watch Oldman work… weaving together the clues to ferret out this mold… investigating members of his former team - one of whom... is sleeping with his wife - that forced him and Control out of the agency. We see Oldman’s managing his ticks and mannerisms knowing that a deviation can yield betrayal and a summary demise. There is a seminal scene where Oldman employs a trusted agent and knowing the nature and danger of the mission, tells the agent to get his affairs in order because of imminent death; we later see that same agent weeping in the presence of his family and not being able to tell the family the reasons for his tears.

There is a sole lady among the group of intelligence officers, whose role is brief, but she still steals the show and it is she who shows that there are times when you do not always find the Rosetta Stone to guide you… but that it takes painstaking, discipline hard work to put the clues together - and sometimes a clue that may seems negligible sometimes provides a wealth of information. One such moment occurs in Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy when this female spook is scouring old news footage and ends up watching a Polit-Bureau parade and sees what seems to be an innocuous salute between two soviet attendees that yields an indispensable clue.

In Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy, you will notice that the catalysts that drive many in society: egos; money; and ambition are among those men and women who work for our intelligence agencies. We also see that these operatives drink too much, chain-smoke and are plagued with problems, notwithstanding having a noble job of being the buffer between us and danger - these spies are not attired like James Bond and driving fancy cars and bedding a bevy of ladies. Incidentally, in Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy, unlike the Politically Correct narrative, spoken in absolute out here… ‘Torture’ indeed sometimes works. I expect to hear an Oscar nomination for Mr. Oldman and perhaps sequels to showcase his character, George Smiley. And as for the strange title, Tinker Tinker Soldier Spy, you will have to see the movie for its mysterious meaning….


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