Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Movie Review

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a very popular British spy novel from the early 70's and was adapted in to a very popular television mini series. The lead character of George Smiley was played by the one and only Sir Alec Guiness and is considered the defining portrayal of the character. Now we have a Hollywood theatrical version of the story featuring Gary Oldman in the lead role.

With such a richly detailed story involving many characters and story lines, it would not be an easy task to give a solid telling in just two hours. Set during the height of the cold war, the story revolves around George Smiley, who has been called back in to duty from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet mole within the highest ranks of MI6. No one is to be trusted, not even men that have been colleagues and friends for many years.

British agent Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy) is the man who has uncovered this threat and, after alerting Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is his immediate supervisor, goes undercover to avoid capture by the Soviets. After Smiley is brought in to investigate, he recruits Guillam to aid him in this task and the two follow a thin trail of evidence they hope will lead to the capture of the Soviet spy.

To tell any more of the story in this review would require reciting the entire novel as there are so many things going on and so many characters to introduce that it can easily get quite overwhelming. Fortunately, you can just watch the movie and see it all for yourself and I must say that everyone involved in the creation of this picture has done a fine job of bringing such an intricate story to the screen.

Along with Gary Oldman and emerging actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, the movie also features Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and many other fine actors and actresses. A lot of credit also has to go to Swedish director Tomas Alfredson and screenwriters Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan for translating the abundance of material in to a coherent two hours production.

There are times during the film that I felt very lost as to where we were in the story and sometimes even who the characters are. After the first act introduces all the different players and story lines, it does get much easier to follow as it then becomes a who-done-it type of cold war thriller and all the webs of intrigue get picked apart and narrowed down.

If you have read the novel by John le Carre, you will have a much easier time wrapping your head around everything that is going on and from what I understand it, and the others in the series are very much worth reading. The most enjoyable part of watching this movie adaptation is seeing such great performances from a wonderful list of respected actors and it really shows in Mr. Oldman's performance that this is a very important role to him.

Even though you can easily get lost in the overwhelming amount of stuff going on, the quality of the story and the outstanding performances really shine through and make this a movie that I would recommend to just about anybody.

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