Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot 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 David Brain
  • A year after he was forced into retirement, ex-spy George Smiley is called back by a Cabinet office official when information comes to him that there may be a Soviet spy, a mole, at the very top of the British secret service. Smiley had been forced out along with Control, the head of spy agency, after a disastrous mission in Hungary where a colleague, Jim Prideaux, was shot. It was also an unhealthy time in the secret service, known affectionately by its members as the Circus, with several senior officers having developed a new source of information in the USSR but refusing to share that person's identity. Smiley agrees to return and in the course of his examination learns that the secret secret Soviet source has become the mainstay of the service, one that they soon plan to use to get at US intelligence information. Smiley soon realizes that the Soviets have turned the service inside out.

    - Written by garykmcd
  • 1974. Undersecretary Oliver Lacon, in charge of the British Secret Service, is in negotiations with Chief Percy Alleline and his staff in British Intelligence - coined the Circus - on funding for a secret on-going mission code named Witchcraft, which at its core is to obtain continued Soviet intelligence from a source who Alleline wants to remain secret for the source's protection. In addition to the usefulness of the intelligence itself, Lacon knows that Alleline's purpose is to regain favor with the Americans, who sees British intelligence as a joke due to one failure after another. Allelline wants to use Witchcraft as a bargaining chip for regaining ongoing access to American intelligence. Alleline was able to implement Witchcraft despite the skepticism of the reliability of the information by the former head of the Circus, Control, as Alleline went over Control's head to the Minister in charge. Lacon receives information from Ricki Tarr, a low level British field agent in hiding, that there has long been an unknown double agent - a Soviet-placed mole - at the highest ranks within the Circus. Lacon is able to convince George Smiley out of retirement to investigate Tarr's claim. A year earlier, Lacon forced Smiley, who was second in command to Control at the Circus, into retirement along with Control due to an unofficial mission in Budapest gone awry, with the British agent working the mission, Jim Prideaux, shot and presumably killed. Smiley's retirement was despite he knowing nothing of the details of the Budapest mission. The reason Lacon is taking Tarr's claim seriously despite Tarr himself being considered rogue and suspecting to be working now for the other side is that Control, who has since died of illness, had previously made a similar claim to Lacon when Control was in charge, something which at the time was never investigated. Smiley recruits Tarr's boss, Peter Guillam, and another retired agent named Mendel to work on the case with him. What Smiley and his team may or may not discover is that Control had suspected the mole to be one of the five men in his inner circle: Alleline, Bill Haydon, Roy Bland, Toby Esterhase, and Smiley himself, the five who Control had code named Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Poorman and Beggarman, respectively. Haydon, Bland and Esterhase remain part of Alleline's current inner circle, Haydon in particular with who Smiley has issue as having carried on an affair with Smiley's then wife, Ann, something that was never addressed between the two men. Amid Tarr's accusations and Control's suspicions, there still is the possibility that the claim is a wild goose chase perpetrated by the Soviets.

    - Written by Huggo
  • In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6.

    - Written by Jim Ellis


Note: Spoilers ahead! Please read this synopsis if you want to understand what is going on in the film. n October 1973...

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