Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – I’ll start this review by the admission that I have never seen the original series, so cannot compare Gary Oldman to Alec Guinness, even though it feels like the former is trying to do a cod-impression of the latter and I kept waiting for him to say “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
As the film begins, Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) goes to see Control (John Hurt) who tells him that a Hungarian man is coming with the name of the mole that the Russians have planted in the high echelons of the British intelligence service, right at the top of “The Circus” and that they have been ther for some time. He adds, “There’s a rotten apple, Jim. You’ll have to find it.”.
The whole thing is known as “Operation Witchcraft” and the Soviet source is being housed at a secret London address to keep him safe.
We later learn that the mole can only be one of five men, and that George Smiley (Oldman) is brought out of semi-retirement and tasked with tracking him down. He choose to work with Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Mendel (Roger Lloyd Pack), the investigation into which begins by going into Control’s flat and finding pictures of the agents taped to chess pieces on his desk.
The film has a perfect ’70s tinge of smoky offices where the walls will reek of tobacco, which the encoding doesn’t process perfectly. Alas, what started as being a film I was really looking forward to ended up being purely a lot of stylish-looking shots with slow panning across or slow zooming-in and everyone looking incredibly serious.
Smiley goes to interview everyone who might know something it’s all “let’s have a scene of two people here”, then “let’s have a scene of two different people there” and then “let’s have another scene of different people here” and so it goes on until things slightly come together.
By the time the mole was revealed, I completely failed to care.
Gary Oldman has deserved a Best Actor nomination for a lot of films in the past, but this is not one of them. The film didn’t deserve to win BAFTAs Best Adapted Screenplay or Outstanding British Film, either.
Go to page 2 for the presentation and extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.