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

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

So disappointing

Author: decap008 from United Kingdom
11 February 2012

Tbf it's prolly around 5 ish, just annoyed as I bought this DVD as a present for my dad, we both love the books and the 70's show, but this film managed to drag, he gave up on it before it had finished.

Too much loud music and overly dramatic pauses. Too little charisma, hard to care or identify with any of the characters, and the gratuitous sex scene was embarrassing.

It was a bit like star wars 1, one intense disappointment yawn with a dodgy Alec guineas impression. Kept expecting a ja ja binks to pop up and yawn, me so bored now.

All the way through is film I kept thinking the TV series really was better than I had thought. Buy that instead this like, it's better.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:


Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
15 January 2012

My notion of noir is simple: it is a form of narrative that recognizes that there is a viewer, and that the presence of the viewer reshapes the world to make an interesting story. That is, various unlikely circumstances occur; portholes to visibility by us as ghosts are opened; knowledge by the characters of what is going on are gated by what we know in a too and fro of dominance.

It is, in other words, a world where the very presence of a viewer controls various aspects. A central character (usually one, usually a random man) struggles with how he is buffeted; comes perhaps to understand it and in the normal form achieves points in the game that puts him at the same level as the viewer.

We are a sophisticated people, and this has been around for a long time — and in cinema and cinematically influenced art as well. So we have some clever adaptations and twists. One common form is the massive, all-controlling conspiracy. Another is the modern detective story where the discovery is about the detective's self as much as grokking the murder. Yet another is the con story where we follow the controller's actions but only at the end discover the means of manipulation.

Here we have another variant, which is essentially a detective story to discover who is the control over the world that is manipulating our random guy, aptly named Smiley. It shares elements of the three examples above, but allows for a deeper texture because it recalls worlds that have dynamics we understand. So a talented filmmaker can reference these.

And boy do we have a talented filmmaker!

One world is simply the world of men with power and how they perform small ballets in their relationships one to another to be top dog, using deniable, even unconscious tactics. This becomes the foremost world in this film, and gives our main actors something to use. All of them are first rate; all respond with insights from the craft. Kathy Bates is perfectly placed as a displaced analyst with enough vision to value 'her boys' for their sexual attractiveness at the top of the heap we see.

Another world is the cold war. It was hot when the book appeared, but the book already was treating it as a sort of fantasy world that came with prefabricated rules. In some ways, it has taken until now for this perspective to fully mature so that this film in this time can be far deeper than the original novel was in its time. Frankly, in its time it was trash for airport reading, of the Grisham variety.

Yet another world is that of Britain in the early seventies. This was a bleak country, still not recovered from the war while its adversaries were soaring. It clung to the US instead of the continent. There is a wistful desire to please the master here that hits home for this US viewer, knowing what I know about the relationships of the intel communities.

And we have the inner, personal world of loves, companions, friends, trust and sex. These are always where the bones of a story rest, and are broken.

All of these are noir worlds, all manipulated by various controls (Controls, as a proper noun).

All of these are masterfully called, merged and presented with us unsure of what we control.

Already, I have this as a candidate for one of my two rare selections of the most important films of 2012 (my 'Fours').

See it. See it in a theater.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Looking for depth and found dull

Author: freeride_1973 from United Kingdom
16 April 2012

This is quite possibly the dullest film I have ever seen. I was hoping for something a little more engaging on a Sunday afternoon but struggled to stay awake through it. It is a fairly simple story line and you know where it is going but instead of a tale with twists and turns it takes a basic linear path. In order to feign complexity all the Director did was cut up the time line. It didn't help that they focused on a particular character in a certain way which was out of context with how other characters were dealt with. Why did they do that? Oh because he is the bad guy. I was hoping that was a red herring. Unfortunately not, the guy I thought it would be 30 minutes into the film was indeed the bad guy. Clumsy, pseudo intelligent, uncreative, dullness.

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Darn Near Close to a Masterpiece

Author: bdgill12 from United States
1 January 2012

I was hooked on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy from my first viewing of the trailer. Everything about it, from the gritty film print to the unmistakable voice of John Hurt down the pulsating background music, was exhilarating. Oh, and then there's Gary Oldman. No actor draws me in quite like Oldman and Oldman in a rare starring role is even more appealing. I looked forward to TTSS more than any other film of 2011 (outside of Harry Potter) and built it up so much in my mind that there was no way it could ever live up to my expectations. Or so I thought.

In the midst of the Cold War, the head of MI6, Control (John Hurt), becomes aware of a mole within his organization. The operation to unearth the spy goes terribly wrong, however, and Control is forced to resign along with George Smiley (Oldman), a member of "The Circus" (MI6's inner circle) and Control's man through and through. A year later, Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy), a field agent who was previously under Control's authority, comes out of hiding and brings with him the renewed belief that one of the members of The Circus is indeed a traitor. With nowhere else to turn, Smiley is brought on board to investigate the claims and root out the mole. As he delves into the work of The Circus and a particular operation known as Witchcraft, Smiley finds himself caught up in an increasingly complex web of lies and cover-ups that threaten to bring the world to the brink of yet another war.

TTSS is the anti-Bourne, the anti-Bauer, and certainly the anti-Bond. I thoroughly enjoy those characters and their respective franchises but this is an entirely different sort of spy film. You could almost believe that TTSS is based on a true story. It is a real espionage thriller and one that stands up against the best of the genre. This is the definition of a slow burn with a narrative that moves at a snail's pace. But that isn't to say that it is boring or that it lacks in drama. While there are no fiery explosions, no nuclear threats, and very few shootings, it is still taut and riveting, the type of film that has you on the edge of your seat without you even realizing it. TTSS builds its tension through its masterful storytelling that mixes in timely flashbacks while constantly moving the narrative forward. This is a layered, deep, and complicated film but director Tomas Alfredson and his team of writers never make a misstep or allow the film to become overly convoluted. This is a thinking man's spy thriller, a film for adults, but it isn't so complex that you can't follow along, a fact that I truly appreciate. Every scene and every line of dialogue is carefully crafted and nothing goes to waste, the mark of a great film. In essence, this is really about as good as it gets from a storytelling standpoint.

For all the good of the story, however, TTSS would fail without a killer cast. Fortunately, Alfredson assembled an impeccable and diverse group of actors who fit their characters beautifully. You know what you're getting from reliable veterans like Oldman, Hurt, and Firth (I'm not sure when exactly Firth went from a ho-hum likable guy in romantic comedies to a tour de force in meaningful films like this but I dig the change) but Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch provide a bit of youthful exuberance to balance out the reserved nature of the older stars. Cumberbatch in particular is a spectacular addition. His character, Peter Guillam, is sort of the audience's representative, as his sense of wide-eyed bewilderment at the grimy reality of espionage adds yet another element to the mix at work within TTSS. Every member of the cast comes through with flying colors, each delivering a powerful performance.

But at the end of the day, this is Oldman's show and he makes the absolute most of it. Smiley basically doesn't speak for the first 20 minutes of the film and even after that his words are limited, calculated. And yet the entire time, Oldman commands attention. He is quietly calm in all situations and gives the impression that you had better listen closely to everything he says. So much information is conveyed without words and so much of the film's success depends on Smiley's ability to create a real presence. Even when he doesn't have the answer to the riddle set before him, Smiley displays a keen understanding of the world he is working within and for me, that sense of, "this guy knows what he's doing" only adds to Oldman's on-screen power. It's not just that Smiley knows what needs to be done; it's that he knows what the cost will be to get it done. This is an incredibly challenging and understated role and one that I think a number of very talented actors would struggle with. Instead, Oldman revels in the difficulty, giving a flawless performance. Deliberating over Oldman's best role is like picking which of Michael Jordan's six championships is his best (it's the third one, by the way) but Oldman's work in TTSS should be held up as a work of art, a masterful portrayal that should not be overlooked in February.

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14 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A complete waste of money and time

Author: teddyfridgie from Germany
6 February 2012

This film is superfluous. And worse, it muddies the well of memories from the superb TV production. From the advertising and trailers I had seen before, I had thought I should see this, but I shouldn't have gone. Nobody should. Very poor casting, the story brutally trimmed back to what (and where it) was cheap to film, and all mixed up anyway as the writer seemed keen on avoiding the examples of the preceding production, and of the book. My goodness, they made a ridiculous dwarf out of Percy Alleline, and a beau out of Bill Hayden, as if they thought the audience would not understand their roles otherwise. Agreed, Le Carres original novels are complex, and rich of detail, wit and character, so not really suited for the mass market. This film seems to be an attempt to reduce the detail and refinery of the novel in order to make it all better digestible for the people who are not fond of detail and refinery. Consequently, this film is not a work of art, but one of shameless exploitation of the fame and publicity of the original. I was utterly disappointed, and feel compelled to warn people of it.: Give this one a miss. Go buy and watch the TV series instead.

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24 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

A good film but not as good as the BBC's adaptation

Author: michaellaing71 from United Kingdom
16 September 2011

Going into watching this film, I had recently watched the BBC adaptation, which is a master piece of television. So when I review this film, it is in comparison with the BBC version from 1979.

Firstly I have to talk about the Mise en scène. The film is set in 1973 and everything is made to feel drab, desaturated and used, as if the 60s never happened. The feeling is that Britain is old, not the power that it once was, where bureaucracy is beginning to take over and everyone is feeling negative.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has a very strong cast and I think, mostly everyone does very well. Gary Oldman is one of my favourite actor and his portrayal of George Smiley is one of the most subtle and destingished performances I have seen from an actor, He is soft spoken, often letting his gestures and movements do the talking. Tom Hardy again shows that he is one of the best up and coming actors, dominates his scenes, with skill and vigour, that never goes over the top. It actually show the skill that Gary Oldman has that he doesn't feel the need to compete and it reinforces the gravitas that his character has.

Benedict Cumberbatch is good in his role, though I don't always feel that he has a toughness that his character should have. Kathy Burke handles a very hard role well, though she isn't in the film for long and her scene doesn't feel as important, as I feel it should. The role of Control is probably the most over the top and for me works the least well. Mark Strong gives a good performance but I would have liked to see slightly more of his character.

John Hurt tries very hard as a man running out of time but the character feels forced and doesn't quite work. I am not sure if this is down to the acting of just the way the character was originally written.

With the four members of the top of the circus, I have mixed views. The film starts to try and build the four of them up but then fails to keep the early momentum going. I think the acting is well done, though Toby Jones character isn't nearly as pompous as I would have liked and David Dencik just breaks down to easily towards the end. Ciarán Hinds is a very strong actor but he isn't given enough to do which does leave a problem. Colin Firth plays the most likable character in the entire film and does a good job, coming over as friendly and reliable.

I am not a fan of films where the cinematography is particularly noticeable and this is one of the more distracting things for me with the new version of the film. Hoyte Van Hoytema is a very talented director of photography and is quite amazing, for me Oscar worthy if you enjoy it. But I just found that the constant use of and changing of depth of field, especially in the first half of the film was too artsy. It didn't help much with the pacing of the film, which I will go onto in a while. The score by Alberto Iglesias is very underplayed but perfectly fits the tone of the film, never distracting and extremely subtle. There is also a very interesting moment in the film where is played which although from the 1930s works very well.

Tomas Alfredson is a good director and I suspect a very good actors director, bringing out some very good performances. I cannot give complete praise though. Scenes don't always seem to flow as well as I would have liked, in conjunction with the cinematography there is a lot of lingering around, where nothing his happening, which is meant to show a character contemplating but is just slow.

In the end though the biggest problem with the film is time, Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan have done a sterling job of trying to adapt John le Carré book, but I just don't feel that they can succeed in the time allowed for a film. There are just so many little things that the film has to either cut or condense, and some of the characters are never given the space that they need, to build up the tension that is needed for a 'who done it'.

The film is not bad, in fact it is good. It cannot compete with the BBC series though and how ever good Gary Oldman, he runs up against the classic performance Alec Guinness gave in the role. If you have not seen the BBC series, I would suggest watching the film first and then watching the TV series because it is the definitive version of the story and also leads to Smiley's People which for me is even better.

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26 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Tinker Tailor Who Cares?

Author: dkdkavanagh from Ireland
6 January 2012

I've just finished watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and so disappointed was I that I had to come on and log my first review. OVER RATED & DULL!!!Pure And simple. I've never read the book or watched the TV series but the combination of the ads, reviews and impeccable cast made this a movie I have been excited to see for months! How bitterly disappointed I am now after 2 hours of absolutely nothing-you can literally tell who the spy is in the first few mins nothing about this plot was a shock or a surprise. you have it all figured out yourself within the first hour-literally. It was the singularly most boring experience I have had watching a movie. Words cannot express how disappointed I was by this-particularly as I'm such an enormous fan of Gary Oldman even he couldn't save this movie and I hate to say it but his performance was flat and monotonous. if the IMDb rating system had zero out of 10 it's what I would have given it. Save your 2 hours for something more incredible or you'll seriously regret wasting them watching this movie!

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30 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Honestly? I didn't get it...

Author: belzebuebchen ( from Berlin
28 November 2011

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is a well shot film with great actors and beautiful art direction. But a story one can follow it has not.

I don't consider myself the slow Joe in the last row, nor is my Girlfriend is that slow Jane but honestly each of us got maybe 25% of the story, half the film made sense when we discussed it later.

Maybe one must read the book first because the approx. 400 pages didn't seem to fit in the 127 minutes of film. There's lots of off-text but that's no real help if the basic motivations are told in hints, half sentences or metaphors. That's not how storytelling works in film.

It's a shame because I really loved Alfredson's LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which is a quiet film where a lot is said between the actual lines. For a cold war spy thriller tough that is not the right way to tell a story.

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51 out of 99 people found the following review useful:

It's AWFUL! Save your money and your time, give this one a miss!

Author: muhammad-chowdhry from United Kingdom
21 September 2011

The trailers were incredibly misleading and it is not the audience's fault if they expected more. Nowhere near as good as the book.

This film is truly awful. There is no emotional development of the characters, so you don't care about them. Suspense is not built and the plot is unnecessarily slow and plodded along. Key scenes are shortened or inexplicably cut in order to give the illusion of mystery. In addition, there are random scenes which do not add to the film in any remote way and can only be described as 'filler'. There is no continuity or flow. The soundtrack is obscene.

Oldman is not acting, rather just staying very still and looking pensive. Hurt's mannerisms are a carbon copy of his role as Sutcliffe in V for Vendetta. Firth is pompous. Cumberbatch and Hardy have some redeeming moments. The rest are anonymous.

I heard a rumour that this was Oscar tipped. After the Hurt Locker and The Social Network soundtrack beating Inception... it is clear the Oscars are useless.

Worthless film, save your money. Watching paint dry would be time better spent

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59 out of 115 people found the following review useful:

What were they thinking?

Author: jillshureauthor from California
8 January 2012

I'm a huge fan of spy movies! I loved The Day of the Jackal, The Bourne Identity. However, this film fails on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. First, we learn almost nothing about the characters. Secondly, I really got tired of watching filing, shuffling of papers, and scenes of men sitting in chairs over and over without any real action. The cuts back and forth are confusing, the actors look extremely unattractive, and most of the scenes are of men sitting down and talking. Or not talking. They stare, they stare again, they mutter. I found this film to be toxic it was so dull. And if the scenes are from the 1970s, how about sideburns on the men? Or double vented suits? This film was a terrible disappointment.

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