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Reviews & Ratings for
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Wooden Acting, Glacial Pace

Author: a-coogan from United States
9 January 2014

Gary Olman was atrocious as Smiley. In particular his face was permanently devoid of expression. He was like a ventriloquist's dummy, except he lacked a dummy's range of emotions.

The only interesting scenes involved the bitchy top spies upstairs, too intent on stabbing each other in the back to mind the shop.

And nothing happened. Looong periods where there's so little action that the lights would have gone out had the switch been tied to a motion detector.

The storytelling was hopelessly opaque.

The miniseries was infinitely better.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An excellent, excellent movie.

Author: yphd77 from United States
3 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not an easy film to follow and I must say that I was, thanks to premium channel reruns, obliged to watch it five times. But, with each viewing, I saw wonderful acting that proffered subtle contributions to a plot that presented greater and greater insight into the brutal,vicious and mysterious world of "cold war" spying. If you stayed with "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" and ended up enjoying it, you'll like this film even more. Nearly every site is entrancing and nearly every scene is compelling. I'm 72 years of age and that may be the influencing factor, but tears of joy sprang into my eyes when, at the end of the film, George Smiley triumphed. As a number of other reviewers have noted, it was the best end to a movie I have ever seen.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A really great film !John Le Carré!

Author: Giorgos Papoutsis (pap0279) from Xylokastro, Greece
23 September 2012

John Le Carré is best known for his novel "the spy who came in from the cold",a 60s "spy" novel and also a noir film.The next good film from another novel of his was "tinker tailor soldier spy",a 70s film.I was curious to see the remake and it didn't disappoint me at all.A very,good,solid,complex film. The plot is really good.Mystery,patriotism,traitors and saviors.Gunfights?Not really.This is not an action film.You must stay focus or else you will miss the point.Is very important to stay focus from the first minute and don't let anything disturb you.Romance?Not really.The women in this film is not as it is in James Bond films.The director did his job well.The cast is really good and remember:This is not a Hollywood film!This is a mystery film!High quality!Highly recommended!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Warning - Good Actors Do Not a Good Movie Make!

Author: allaboutlana from United States
14 August 2012

Gary Oldman is George Smiley, a British agent who comes out of retirement when he asked to find a mole in the system. Enough of the plot. The rest of what I have to say is probably not original, but I wanted to add my two cents. I wanted to see if there were other people who felt like me, and I'm glad to see there are. I didn't get the big deal about this film. I heard such praises for the best film of the year, or the suspense film of all suspense films! I was very disappointed in this film. This is not to say I don't appreciate deliberately paced films that are dramas, like The Painted Veil and The Straight Story, two very different films. But this was just awful. I do admit what made it worse for me, was that I have seen the original Alec Guinness miniseries some years back, and while it was slow-paced as well, it was miles ahead of this. Good actors are saddled with muddy waters and can't get out of it in this adaptation of the John Le Carre story. Don't say you haven't been warned! Alec Guinness, where are you?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

In many ways an instant classic but...

Author: julian-mumford from New Zealand
4 August 2012

The 1979 BBC series of the same name, starring Sir Alec Guinness has always been considered the final word on this cold War set spy novel. So any film adaption had an uphill task to convince sceptics that it had something new to say.

The fact that this very English story was to be directed by a "foreigner", Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, added further consternation.

As the cast was assembled however, it was clear this was to be no ordinary adaption. All stops had been pulled, the period setting nailed down, first class actors in place and a screenplay that had managed to compress this complicated novel into an audience friendly 127 minutes.

The film is set in the early 1970's and centres around the "Circus", a lightly fictionalized headquarters of British Secret Service. Every thing is brown, smoke filled, building and information security is almost non-existent, most of the higher echelons of the service are ex-military, plotting and counter plotting against the perceived Russian Communist threat.

The whole enterprise still has an amateurish old boy network feel, although involved in a very deadly game, where torture, murder and clandestine "wet work" occurs, albeit largely off screen here.

The film employs many flashbacks and the story is deliberately labyrinthine in complexity, spies spying on spies and paranoia filling every frame. No-one is to be trusted, certainly the US no longer will share their intelligence with the British, as they have a "leaky ship", a potential mole within the very top echelons of the organization. Handled by the mysterious and never seen "Karla", a Russian spymaster.

Smiley (Oldman) and his boss "C" or control (John Hurt), have been managed out into semi-retirement, only for Smiley to be brought back to "clean house" and find the traitor. He is assisted by the loyal Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Mendel (Roger Lloyd Pack). Smiley has always been Le Carre's greatest creation, investing by his own admission, many of his own early personality traits into his makeup. Crumpled, anonymous, inexperienced in love, all knowing and yet knowing little, he watches and observes and is never disappointed in man's frailties and flaws.

Smiley has four characters to choose from, if he discounts himself as the Mole, which from an audience point of view, we should not. Tinker (Toby Jones), Tailor (Colin Firth), Soldier (Ciaran Hinds) and Poorman (David Dencik).

The existence of the mole had been hinted at but was confirmed following the liaison of Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) a rogue field operative, with a Russian spy's wife. The film itself commencing with a disastrous "extraction" set and filmed in Hungary with Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), proving that moving pawns around is far easier and safer than being one.

To summarise the plot further would be to provide spoilers and would be difficult in a short review. There are occasions where the full story and motivations for characters are difficult to grasp, perhaps the feel and tone of the film is as important as comprehending every story nuance.

Author Le Carre, obviously spring-boarding from his own intelligence experience and the real life traitorous Cambridge five, Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Caircross and Blunt, all of which is well documented elsewhere.

Oldman manages to channel Guinness into his performance without being perceived as a caricature. On occasions the timbre and cadence of his voice sounds similar, however he has made this role very much his own. Oldman has an ability to disappear chameleon like into the role he plays, all different and no doubt nothing like his "real life" persona. Donning the famous character glasses, he personifies the Smiley many fans will know and love.

Oldman is assisted with a ensemble cast that reads like a roll-call of top acting talent, all performances are believable and fit the production and tone perfectly. It is difficult to imagine that the interpretation and presentation of the source material could be bettered. Whether the subject matter and realistic approach to spycraft, will appeal to a modern younger audience is less likely.

Smiley is the very antithesis of James Bond, there are no gadgets here, no exotic hotels, no flash cars. Just hum-drum, anonymous people doing shabby, boring, laborious and seedy work, interspersed with occasional acts of off screen violence, amply demonstrating the stakes all participants realise they are playing for.

Was it all worthwhile, the sacrifices made, the threat real or invented. Perhaps only those in the know will ever really be able to judge. In an interview (on the DVD/Bluray), Le Carre suggests that spy's are and always will be necessary but they should be subservient to the democratic process, listened too but not always seen as a panacea for societies ills and acted upon blindly.

So a story that is fixed in time, that is in many ways anachronistic now but a story well told and with the highest quality of acting.


In many ways an instant classic, with a mesmerizing performance from Gary Oldman and sterling support from a glitterati of mainly English acting royalty.

However, this may not be to everyone's taste perhaps, with little action and a complicated plot that remains largely true to the original very dry and complex Le Carre book, upon which the film is based.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Great, Solid Movie for Those with the Patience for it

Author: brando647 from Spring Hill, FL
12 June 2012

You've got to have a bit of patience when settling in to watch TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. It's not the sort of secret agent/spy film the general public has come to expect; this is no James Bond or Jason Bourne. The movie is based on a novel from John le Carré and depicts a more realistic view on the world of espionage. The action is minimal and the plot is dense. After my first viewing, I had a good grasp on what had gone down but I was still a little confused as to how it all came together. There are a lot of characters to keep tabs on and twists and turns in the story to follow as it leads you to the final reveal. From Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, the movie is a slow-boiler that stars some of the biggest names in British cinema. The movie is set in the midst of the Cold War in 1973 Britain. The head of the British intelligence service, Control, believes there is a mole embedded within the organization's highest ranks but a mission to flush it out ends in failure and Control's forced resignation along with his right-hand man, George Smiley. Control dies soon afterward and information arises that might mean Control was right, and Smiley is asked to return as head of an unofficial investigation and determine which of the remaining heads of MI5 is selling the nation's secrets to the Russians. No explosions, no car chases, just sold storytelling and powerful performances.

Right off the bat, this movie will loses a lot of peoples' interest in its execution. This movie is a little more than two hours of talking heads. Information is doled out slowly and gives the chance to try and come to conclusions at the same pace as our hero, George Smiley. The problem, and the film's only weakness in my opinion, is that there is just so much information to track. At the end, I wasn't surprised at the reveal of the mole and I understood his motives and even spotted some of the clues, but I had a rough time getting there on my own. When the movie finally gets to that point, I just readily accept it and try to follow the path a little better in a second viewing when I know what (and who) I'm looking for. Despite its often baffling density, I really did enjoy this movie. It's not often we get an espionage movie that isn't just a series of action scenes and a villain with a grand scheme. These spies use subterfuge and misdirection as their tools. The pace is slow but the story grabs you; it doesn't need expensive effects to entertain its audience. The movie is a bit of a brain teaser and I dig that. And the production design is superb in its recreation of the sights, sounds, and styles of 70's era England. Alfredson and his crew paid amazing attention to detail in their immersion into the era.

And the best part of the movie is the cast. Seriously, they have pulled together some of the best for this movie. First and foremost, there is the spectacular Gary Oldman in the film's main role, George Smiley. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role here, and it was deserved. He is a tense man with a lot boiling under his surface while maintaining his cool the entire time. He's the penultimate polite Englishman here and the ultimate professional. His colleagues include Colin Firth, Toby Jones, David Dencik, and Ciarán Hinds. Some receive more attention and screen time than others but all put forth fantastic performances, especially Jones and Firth. The movie also boasts John Hurt (in a limited role as Control), Tom Hardy (in my opinion one of his best performances as a suspected turncoat), Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch, who I'll admit I never heard of before this film, is an integral role in the movie as Smiley's inside man and nails it. This cast really is a collection of some of the best Britain has to offer, and they have to be because the movie rests entirely on their shoulders. I would love to recommend this movie more widely but I can tell right off that the majority of general audiences would be bored to tears. So if you have a bit of patience and love an intricate plot, I certainly recommend this film but be prepared for a second viewing if you want to walk away with a solid understanding of its events.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Performances worthy of viewing this John LeCarre Mystery

Author: juliewriter from United States
23 April 2012

Fans of mystery writer John LeCarre will be delighted with this artistic "film noir" style interpretation of his best selling spy novel "Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy". Performances by Gary Oldman as the quietly brilliant George Smiley and Colin Firth as a mysterious leading character create all the viewer should need to enjoy this movie; but, having read LeCarre's book helps, as watching the artistry of the film goes only so far. Eventually, the viewer must come to an understanding of the plot- a story about the way clandestine operations were executed, figuratively and otherwise, in the days post Cold War. Lots of Sherlock Holmes ponder- thinking goes into Smiley's ultimate conclusions, which makes this story a classic. Oldman is the perfect Smiley, so he kept the often confusing script together, simply by bringing LeCarre's lead spy to life. I recommend this movie but also suggest the viewer enjoy LeCarre's book prior to viewing. Wonderful performances throughout the film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Slow footed but well acted

Author: adrongardner from USA
29 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well of course it's literate - it's a John le Carré book. Where the book moved at the rate one associates with planet formation in the solar system, the movie manages to speed things up. That is, ever so slightly.

While the movie goes it's own way in rejecting much back-story, the editing mimics a degree of the time shifting style of the book. Yet transitions are poorly placed and you wonder if you merely fell asleep and missed a bit, which is possible, than witnessed brilliant editing. The story simply isn't all that engrossing. Smiley is brought in and assembles a team to look for a mole in the "circus."

Thats about it. Few surprises and the plot, while edgy in the 1970s, now has been done over a few times even by reality in the form of Aldrich Ames. The cloak and dagger bits are few and far between, though action is appropriately brutal and well timed. The second half is far better than the first.

Performance wise, the cast is peerless. To name a few, Firth, Hardy, Oldman and Mr Holmes himself, Benedict Cumberbatch give every ounce of credibility you need for serious jobs like this. Yet, there's still something missing. While this takes a vote above disappointments like Breach or The Good Shepherd, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy feels like a dusty old overcoat. Sneakers from 1992 was more comic, less authentic, but more interesting and a better spy movie.

Good, not great. Saved by the acting and worth a rent.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Behind Glasses

Author: kosmasp
23 March 2012

I haven't seen the original mini-TV-series from the UK, so I can't judge the movie on behalf of that nor compare it to it. What I can say, is that this movie has superior acting in it, a story that does condone repeated viewing and just enough "action" to make it work. Why do I say the latter? Because there are a lot of people who'll dismiss this as talking heads movie. And this perception is not really wrong, because if you really want to see action and stunts and all that, than you shouldn't watch this movie.

On the other hand, the talking heads do an amazing job and every nuance in their performance is just great. While you might find yourself struggling to follow the story, it all will be revealed by the end. One of my favorites of 2011, this movie has a lot going for it, tension being one of those things. Great directing job, something you could expect

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not all movie spies are like James Bond

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
21 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When Jim Prideaux is sent to Budapest to arrange the defection of a senior Hungarian officer things do not go according to plan; he is shot and we presume killed. One of the reasons Control, the head of MI-6 was so keen to get his hands on the officer was that he had come to believe that their was a mole high up in the service and this man could identify him. With the operation failing Control is soon replaced along with those closest to him. One of those let go is George Smiley; he is recruited to find out who the mole is without those still in the service knowing. As the case progresses we will learn more about what happened to Prideaux after he was shot; the details of 'Operation Witchcraft', which concerned an apparent Soviet agent who was passing valuable information to the west and ultimately the identification of the mole.

Having seen the television adaptation of the story starring Alec Guinness I was curious to see how this would compare. Now I have seen both I'd probably rate the series higher but that might just be because I saw it first; inevitable a fair amount has been removed in this version but the key parts remain. The acting was top notch; Gary Oldman made a fine Smiley and the rest of the main cast was made up of fairly well known actors all of whom did well. People who don't know anything about the story before watching may be a little disappointed if they are expecting James Bond style action; there is none of that here; these spies aren't glamorous action men they are ordinary people; the sort you'd barely notice in a crowd; in other words far closer to what I imagine real people working at MI-6 are like. That isn't to say there is no action at all; there are a few shootings; one of which is particularly shocking. Over all this was a quality film which I'd certainly recommend.

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