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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6.

Director:

Tomas Alfredson

Writers:

Bridget O'Connor (screenplay), Peter Straughan (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,949 ( 79)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Strong ... Jim Prideaux
John Hurt ... Control
Zoltán Mucsi Zoltán Mucsi ... Magyar
Péter Kálloy Molnár ... Hungarian Waiter
Ilona Kassai Ilona Kassai ... Woman in Window
Imre Csuja Imre Csuja ... KGB Agent
Gary Oldman ... George Smiley
Toby Jones ... Percy Alleline
David Dencik ... Toby Esterhase
Ciarán Hinds ... Roy Bland
Colin Firth ... Bill Haydon
Kathy Burke ... Connie Sachs
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Peter Guillam
Stephen Graham ... Jerry Westerby
Arthur Nightingale Arthur Nightingale ... Bryant
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Storyline

In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control (Sir John Hurt), 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. George Smiley (Gary Oldman) 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 rogue Agent Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy), 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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The secret is out. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Focus Features | Official site | See more »

Country:

France | UK | Germany

Language:

English | Russian | Hungarian | French | Turkish

Release Date:

6 January 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,814,860 (United Kingdom), 18 September 2011, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$310,562, 11 December 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$24,149,393, 22 March 2012

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$80,630,608, 22 March 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, the song "Mr Wu's A Window Cleaner Now" is played on the radio and sung along by several characters. This song was originally from To Hell with Hitler (1940), in which George Formby played a ukulele player, mistaken for a spy. See more »

Goofs

One shot where the car drives under the railway bridge clearly shows modern street lights which were put in during the 1990s. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Control: [opening door] You weren't followed?
Jim Prideaux: No.
Control: Better come in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the closing credits, there is a mention of Karla Films. This is a homage to George Smiley's nemesis. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 18 March 2015 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Salut D'Amour
Written by Edward Elgar
Arranged & Produced by Michael Price
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Genuine Achievement
17 September 2011 | by imagikingSee all my reviews

Boldly announcing himself upon the stage of international cinema with 2009's Let the Right One In, the significant critical and commercial acclaim accorded director Thomas Alfredson clearly proved him a filmmaker capable of pulling off high quality adaptations of complex and dark literary sources.

Called back into service to uncover the identity of a Soviet mole at the height of the Cold War, retired British intelligence operative George Smiley is tasked with unwinding a vastly convoluted web of conspiracy, codenames, double agents, and deceit.

The movement from relatively low-budget foreign language filmmaking to helming star casts in comparably costly productions is one that, historically, holds significant risk for directorial careers. Add to the mix the danger of bringing a much-loved novel to life on screen, and Alfredson is certainly faced with a substantial task. An espionage thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy—based on John le Carré's book—throws an extremely layered narrative at its audience and insists they keep up, making little in the way of allowance for those accustomed to excess plot exposition. Concerning an approximate dozen key characters—most of whom go by at least two names—the film contains a considerable quantity of raw information to be processed, particularly considering its reserved pace; the camera scrolls slowly across the screen in step with the story's measured progression, constantly moving along yet never losing the integral tension of its hastelessness. Alfredson and screenwriters Bridget O' Connor and Peter Straughan demonstrate a keenness for the more tensely-oriented end of the genre, delving into an atmosphere of unease rather than one of brisk spy action. There is almost an air of claustrophobia to much of the film, the caliginous cinematography and mysterious score combining to evoke an aura of noir paranoia. Much like Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy boasts a thrilling visual panache; indeed, Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography is oftentimes so remarkably involving that entire scenes may pass by without any absorption of the dialogical details disclosed therein—the brain is simply too overcome by the aesthetic bombardment of visual pleasure to decipher the explicit aural signals. One particular shot—an extreme close-up of Smiley's wearied face draped in shadow— affords the audience the time to study the furrowed ridges of his forehead and the weighted bags of his eyelids, giving us an entitled sense of knowledge of, and familiarity with, this character. It seems almost redundant to offer praise to the film's extraordinary cast; a brief glance at the list of exemplary names will disclose the sheer calibre of talent on display: a veritable dream team of the finest names of modern British cinema. From Firth to Hurt, Hardy to Cumberbatch, Oldman to Dencik, the phenomenal cast plays beautifully together, each actor inhabiting their character with award-courting flair. Where Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy really shines is in its characterisation—an all-too often underutilised aspect in this genre—each of them distinctly human rather than simply mouths through which the plot developments are channelled. Their primary concern may be with their espionage, but ours is with them: exploring their motivations; their private lives; their loyalties; and just how a career like theirs affects an existence. A recurring Christmas party scene revisited a number of times throughout the film reminds us regularly that these intelligence agents are not solely extensions of the government's facilities, but rather human beings with emotions, afflicted by the agonies of their toils, burying themselves in vodka-laced punch to just get away from it all.

Hitting all the right notes in its performances, script, and direction, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy triumphantly infuses a challengingly multifarious narrative with a deeper humanity, questioning by proxy the way in which devotion to duty affects all aspects of our lives. Shot with unforgettable effulgence—committing to memory eternal every last contour of Oldman's storied brow—it is a genuine achievement in cinematic storytelling.


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