Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving MI5 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the... See full summary »
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. Smiley considers that the failure of the Hungary operation and the continuing success of Operation Witchcraft (an apparent source of significant Soviet intelligence) confirms this, and takes up the task of finding him. Written by
I love the '79 TV serial and the book it was based on. I went to this expecting, given the cast and LeCarre's involvement, that it would be an interesting attempt to compress and update the original and that the noble effort would fall short. Unfortunately, this film is a disaster at every level. Not a single element rises to the level of the original, most are far worse, and the failures are stupid and unnecessary.
In the course of trimming the material to film-length, someone decided to leave out character development. Lacon, Bland, Esterhazy and Haydon are semi-dimensional ciphers and Alleline and Control are peevish wasps. What a waste! Oldman, playing Smiley, tries for reserve and manages to look petrified; the botox budget must have been enormous. I have never appreciated the expressive and nuanced performances of Alec Guiness and the rest of the original cast so much.
By all means, watch the DVD of the original and its sequel. And if this bunch ever remakes Smiley's People, stay away.
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