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

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13 out of 24 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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16 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Downer Bummer Boredom Yawn

Author: Bolly_Boba_Booboo ( from BOLLYWOOD
5 December 2011

Filmed at the time when Oldman ceased to be a box office draw, this film makes an attempt to capture that former glory. All it captures is silliness and pretension. Oldman seems restrained, almost lost, in the trifle he is asked to play here. Kathy Burke has her shrill moments but there are times, especially by the fire, when she is especially lovely. Mark Strong has nothing much to do, though she does it fine enough. Péter Kálloy Molnár as the main Hungarian Waiter is especially wooden. John Hurt does come off the best, playing a total creep, as The Bollywood Insider puts it.

We never get a sense of the the espionage that would have made more apparent the strain Oldboy was under. We never see his reactions, most likely because the producers would have thought it would have made him seem like too much of a heel.

The philosophy in this movie is heavy-handed and especially disappointing since two famous writers wrote the screenplay.

Another absurdity is that Oldman lives in what is described as a shack. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't trade their house for that shack in a split second. Also, for a starving government employee, how does he afford it? Movie logic, that's how.

There are two reasons to see it, though. One is the aerial photography of gloomy industrial districts. Truly phenomenal. The other is the truly lovely score by Aziz Mandel, which has haunted me for about the last 20 minutes.

Really, watch the first five minutes and the end credit sequence and you'll have seen everything worthy this movie has to offer. And let's be honest, Gary Oldman as Smiley, the wily, worldly-wise, and world-weary cuckold, is a badly thought-out casting decision, to say the least.

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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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28 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

a failed experiment

Author: davaria from United Kingdom
26 September 2011

My impression, while trying to stay awake during the first part, was of a failed experiment: let's vampirize the cold war movie genre (good intention) and take anything vital out of it. Which might have been interesting if the vampirization had given life to something else. Unfortunately this does not happen. The film is excruciatingly lost in details, and it's even more painful because of the beautiful cinematography, which feels wasted on this effort. It's like a heavy coat of lead covering... well, not much. The actors seem disconnected from the environment and from each other (not only the characters, which would make sense considering the context, but the actors themselves, they seem to be in a vacuum). I found impossible to connect emotionally with any of them, which makes sense as they're all quite dispirited, but the problem is that none of them actually develops into a proper character. The non-linear time-line doesn't really feel justified, it's just confusing, over a plot that (Le Carré) is already quite convoluted. The only things that kept me from falling asleep were the photography, cinematography and editing, which are definitively captivating. But it's a case of style over substance. I might have as well stayed at home to watch my espresso machine.

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52 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

2 Hours Watching Paint Dry

Author: paulshepp30 from Brighton
19 September 2011

Just a quick review as I really do not want to spend any more time wasted on this movie. I was really looking forward to seeing it with such a great cast and glowing reviews everywhere I looked. I was very surprised at how nothing seemed to happen and the twists were just so predictable. I have to agree with people who slated it on IMDb as very boring, I couldn't agree more. I couldn't have cared less about the characters who were brilliantly acted but that doesn't save this film at all. It just bumbled from one dull scene to the next and I gave up waiting for anything of interest to happen within 45 minutes of the movie. A few people had the courage to get up and leave and I wish I had been one of them.

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80 out of 158 people found the following review useful:

I want my 2 hours back and the editors flogged

Author: scottsmusic from United States
16 January 2012

I am a sharp, creative 46 year old man with more than thirty years in the television/movie industry and this was simply a very slow, boring movie. I love spy movies from Bond to Bourne, and the classics like Three Days of the Condor, The French Connection and Day of the Jackal. I like slow movies by David Lynch and Martin Scorsese. But this - this was a exceedingly lackluster slow motion film noir vanity piece and it's mostly about how long Gary Oldman can stare meaninglessly into space without blinking! Remember all those long shots of people walking to & from cars, buildings and offices from the sixties? They're back! Minus the drama because editorial is cut like an Army Training reel from the Nixon Administration!

What really bothers me is how out of touch I am by hating this movie; I'm still shocked anybody could rate this any better than a generous 5 or 6 - it's just that bad.

If you like glacial pacing and subtext to the point of parody, this film may still be too ambitious for you. I can only imagine how bored a young person would be with this moldy old movie. Avoid!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Grega Bremec from Slovenia
8 November 2015

I have watched this movie 5 times, and I would love to do it 5 more times again; it will actually be my preference over anything I might have available to sit down to and don't quite feel like risking, any time I feel like doing it again.

It has that perfect mixture of a good old European crime movie flow, underpinned with some of the best contemporary music ever adapted for the screen. And then it adds some of its own mystery on top of that.

The cast is mesmerising, the plot just about difficult enough to figure out on the first watch, so the remaining four runs for me were simply pure indulgence in being able to watch a masterpiece again from four different perspectives and not be bored a minute each and every time.

In fact, I enjoyed it more and more, every single time I've seen it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Amazing cast help to overcome flaws

Author: Fluke_Skywalker from United States
11 October 2015

The cast here is so exceptional - easily one of the best ensembles this century - and the story crafted so meticulously, that it overcomes the fact that for most of its runtime I was only comprehending it on the margins. This is 20lbs of story stuffed into a 10lb sack, but by the end most of the tumblers had fallen into place and the end result was an intense, white-knuckle spy thriller without one car chase or shootout.

As I said, the cast is amazing, but not more so than Gary Oldman. The man is a chameleon, and this may be the finest performance of his career. But he's only one of a dozen great performances that help to shove aside any flaws and make 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' a fantastic spy thriller.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The pace is very smooth and calm

Author: Ole Sandbaek Joergensen from Denmark
16 September 2015

At first this movie seem very long, I was a bit tired and that is not the time to see a film like this, you have to pay attention at all times and find out what is going on and how this story unfolds and is an entangled mess of small stories and chaotic happenings melting together. I guess this is what it has been like in MI-6 or other agencies at troubled times, who is covering for whom, who is to be trusted or maybe is not and how can the web be untangled.

There are many great actors in this film and they all play their roles to perfection, their characters are very different, but all have good, sad or character defining or changing moments and these are great to watch.

The film is long and not action packed, not even in the action scenes, the pace is very smooth and calm, just like the main character played by Gary Oldman. It seems very live like and very historically correct and that makes it interesting and entertaining.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (film)

Author: Horrorliefhebber from Belgium
23 August 2015

-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 Cold War espionage film directed by Tomas Alfredson. The screenplay was written by Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, based on the 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carré. It stars Gary Oldman as George Smiley, along with Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds. Set in London in the early 1970s, the story follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent at the top of the British secret service. The film was produced through the British company Working Title Films and financed by France's StudioCanal. It premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. It was a critical and commercial success and was the highest-grossing film at the British box office for three consecutive weeks. The film also received three Academy Awards nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and for Oldman, Best Actor. The novel had previously been adapted into the award-winning 1979 BBC TV miniseries Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. --Critical response: -Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy received generally positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes sampled 206 reviewers and judged 83% of the reviews to be positive. The site summarised the film as "a dense puzzle of anxiety, paranoia, and espionage that director Tomas Alfredson pieces together with utmost skill". Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 85 based on 42 reviews. -- Sequel: -While doing press for Working Title's Les Misérables film adaptation, producer Eric Fellner stated that fellow producer Tim Bevan is working with writer Straughan and director Alfredson on developing a sequel. Fellner did not specify if the sequel will be based on The Honourable Schoolboy or Smiley's People, the two remaining Smiley novels in Le Carré's "Karla Trilogy".

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