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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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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Too demanding movie (for an average viewer)

Author: Maleplatypus from Croatia
1 February 2012

Through the period of the cold war I was a kid but I do remember it and everybody knew there's something going on "behind the curtains". But what? This movie does not explain anything. On the contrary - it shows how entirely absurd the whole thing was. Idelogy? What ideology? They were all the same. People were spying each other, betraying, killing and so on for no real reason (maybe money, but even that is doubtful). All "affairs" were just construction, one over the other, and all of them somewhere in the clouds. That's how I perceive this movie and the period described. Requires too much attention and background knowledge. Too much happening in too little time. One barely (if at all) distinguishes who is who in one scene, and here is already another with something totally different. Confusing and boring, yet beautifully photographed. The cast is full of "stars" but why? None of them really has a chance to show anything impressive. There are more characters than in local phone book. Everything is sacrificed for the plot, which probably 100 people in the world understand. I'm not amongst them. The only reason I could recommend this film is testing your patience. Sorry, but nothing more than that.

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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Very Good adaptation

Author: jacko07 from United Kingdom
21 September 2011

Somebody on here put this film down as the worst movie ever. I can't imagine what the reviewers IQ is, double figures would be gambling. Did they get bored being away from the X-Box for a couple of hours, or did they think it was based on the nursery rhyme.

There were no over the top car chases, machine guns or fist fights that would make Muhammed Ali look like a slouch. In fact there were no childish gimmicks, it stuck to the story which is much more the dark real life of cold war espionage.

A very strong cast with some outstanding performances. Gary Oldman is one of the best film actors around today and his performance here was on par with the great Alec Guinness's portrayal of George Smiley. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes John Le Carre and especially those who enjoyed the TV series. I would advise those with a short attention span or can't handle thinking to steer clear. This film is not Bourne or Bond type Hollywood style entertainment The film deserves awards, let us hope it gets some good ones.

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12 out of 22 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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12 out of 22 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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12 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Smiley, past and present.

Author: stephennoel from United Kingdom
17 September 2011

I have the audio and video versions of the Alec Guinness portrayal of George Smiley and enjoyed both. So I was intrigued as to how a new production, complete with new actors would supplant my ingrained vision of Control, George, Bill, Toby, Roy, Peter, Connie, Riki, Mendel etc. I have to say you need a blank sheet when watching this version as the whole thing has been re written for the cinema so comparisons will be unfair.

The writing and acting cannot be faulted, how can it with such an august cast. Oldman, like Guinness, portrays Smiley as a studied man and therefore the film is just as you would expect of a spy film, as has been mentioned in other reviews, a slow burner. There are different angles explored but one thing I didn't like and it goes for all films that I watch, and that is the use of flashbacks, which, unfortunately for me, this film uses.

The story is the same, its the way its portrayed that is different and now we may be able to look forward to a re-make of Smiley's People in the future.

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Not one for the masses.

Author: dougandwin from Adelaide Australia
7 February 2012

I know I am in the minority, but I have just come out of seeing this Film, and , not having read the book, I am completely confused as it jumped from scene to scene introducing numerous new characters, who then disappeared and no real explanation of why the things that happen do happen. The acting is excellent, but one feels if this how MI6 operated during the Cold War, it is wonder that more serious events did not occur. The photography is good, even though most of the buildings, inside and out, were drab, dirty and colorless. A number of relationships were hinted at, but not pursued causing more confusion. Gary Oldman was excellent in a demanding role, and he and his assistant, Peter, were the redeeming features in an overlong, dreary and confusing movie.

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Not bad, but not good.

Author: akingy90 from London, United Kingdom
27 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was disappointed in this film. Admittedly, I expected great things from it, with its fantastic (and mostly British) cast, but there were a number of things that let it down for me.

Firstly, the plot was complicated and hard to follow, and in my opinion some scenes could easily have been shortened or cut altogether. The flashbacks were also difficult to understand in places.

Furthermore, it was unclear how and why the mole started working for the other side as well as his own. I also would have liked to have seen more of Smiley's train of thought as he figured out the identity of the spy, as there was no real way to make an educated guest as to which member of the circus it was.

However, I wouldn't say that it was a bad film. It just wasn't the masterpiece I felt the writers and actors were capable of delivering.

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19 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

I have NO idea what happened in this movie!

Author: meryl-2 from Los Angeles, CA
26 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me start by saying I didn't read the book, and didn't know I wouldn't be able to understand the movie without it. But, I DIDN'T understand the movie!

About 45 minutes, the person I was with leaned over and asked me if I knew what was going on. All I knew was: "There's a mole I think?"

I truly had no idea what was going on. I also had no idea who the characters were or why I was supposed to care about them, but the plot confusion trumped that for sure. I left after 90 minutes so I could go home and look up a summary on the internet because I was going nuts. Several people around me were sleeping and I saw one other person walk out as well, but I see that the film is getting fantastic reviews. It just made me real, real sleepy.

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23 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

A very different type of spy film

Author: Charles Dekan (charlie_d_007) from United Kingdom
21 September 2011

Those more accustomed to a 'modern' spy thriller may be overwhelmed by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is a slow pace, well acted spy drama, full of interconnected sub-plots, over a dozen characters, and a mere one or two action sequences (all low key, realistic affairs). Thus, modern spy fans may well be disappointed; overwhelmed with the chronology defying story and bored with the film's snail's pace. But of course, this does not make Tinker, Tailor a bad film, but rather something very different from what modern audiences are used to.

Tinker tailor is a strange kind of film; marketed as a thriller, it is in fact a story driven drama which keeps espionage and spying to such a minimum that at times one would struggle to even call it a spy film. James bond it is not; it is far darker and infinitely more realistic. Yet equally it is also in no way similar to the Bourne franchise, Bond's darker brother. In fact, Tinker Tailor has more in come with a character driven drama than any modern spy film.

I entered the film with no prior knowledge of the film or it's source material (or previous adaptations for that matter), other than its basic plot line; that is, a retired spy (Oldman, on top form) is brought back into British Intelligence (Circus) to investigate the existence of a mole working for the Russians. This simple premise is quickly elaborated on, and I found that, with my lack of knowledge of the source material, combined with the films casual and frequent use of the flashback without warning, that I quickly lost track of the plot. Characters are brought in, disguised as main characters, and then never seen from again until much later in the film. Names are thrown around but as the audience is not that familiar with them it is easy to lose track of who is who, and perhaps worst of all, the huge ensemble cast means that each character (even , criminally, Oldman) is given little screen time and thus almost all our underdeveloped. I would have preferred the film to have been a bit longer, to allow all the characters to fully develop. This character development is never fully achieved, and so by the end of the film, it is hard for the viewer to even care about whom the mole is, and thus the final reveal is a real let down, with no tension or shock accompanying it

Fortunately, the film is about more than just the final reveal of who the mole is; the journey is equally important, and at times, this journey is incredibly exciting. Standout scenes include Cumberbatch's (again, underused, considering his ability) sneaky attempt at retrieving a file from Circus (one of the films few tense scenes), and the brilliant ending scene with the juxtaposed soundtrack. In fact, it is a shame that the film didn't have a few more scenes like the final one, which had a real scenes of fun and style, despite the violent and serious events portrayed .

Moreover, anyone going to see the film with even a slight interest in cinema, will instantly realise the cast is a magnificent one; in fact it was really the cast that drew me to the film in the first place. Oldman is terrific, and it is good to see him in a meaty starring role again. In addition, there is an abundance of well known names including Colin Firth and John Hurt, and some relative newcomers; specifically Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. All play their roles to perfection; it is hard to think of even a single weak link.

Thus, the film in theory should be a good one; a great cast, combined with some excellent scenes, and an intriguing plot that demands multiple viewing. However, in practice, the overall package is a real let down. As previously mentioned, the film is very hard to follow for someone who has no prior knowledge of the source material. The complex plot is not helped by multiple flashbacks, and a huge cast of characters. I found it exhausting to keep track of the plot, and judging from the audience response in my screening (a handful of people walked out), I am not alone in thinking this. Thus, on first viewing, for a person in my position, this film is very much a disappointing one. The film is not quite what one would call a 'mess', but it is certainly all over the place.

But, that does not mean it should not be seen; the complexity of the plot demands multiple viewings, and I can imagine it would be incredibly rewarding to watch the film over and over again, slowly piecing it together. Therefore, I would recommend that people in my position give the film a miss in the cinema, and instead get it as soon as possible on DVD; watch it once, then immediately watch it again.

However, this will not affect everyone. I want to reassure all fans of the source material who have not seen the film, that they will more than likely enjoy this film, which I understand is a faithful adaptation. A fan will have no trouble following the film, and thus will be able to overcome my main problem with it.

In summary, it is hard to recommend someone with no knowledge of the plot go and watch this film in the cinema; they will more than likely be, at the very least, slightly overwhelmed. However, I have no fears about recommending this film to those already comfortable with the plot; do not let my slightly sow review score put you off; this is merely my opinion (an outsiders opinion). It is more than likely that overtime, with repeat viewings, this film with gain a star or two, but, for now, I must give it only an above average rating of six stars.

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24 out of 46 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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