Having not read the book or seen the BBC Mini Series, both of which are now on my list of things to do since both are in hand, the movie version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy featuring an all star list of actors is one of the better movies to see during the doldrums of January.
Taking place in January of 1975, there is a mole at the top of British Intelligence aka The Circus and after a botched operation involving spy Mark Strong, the decks chairs are shuffled and several people at The Circus are sacked, Control played by John Hurt and George Smiley played by Gary Oldman.
Unfortunately, the shuffling of the deck chairs do not fix the leaking ship, low level scalp hunter, Ricki Tarr played by Tom Hardy finds more information about the leak and several horrific events happen to people around him to make him search out Smiley to help only to find George has been asked to look into the problem and is given free reign to bring in agents such as Peter Guillam played by Benedict Cumberbatch to spy on their own agency.
For a two hour movie the material was condensed but otherwise the filmmakers kept it interesting enough that the movie went by rather quickly without needing a score card. Judging from the trailers, you would think this is a action movie but instead it is a movie with very little action pieces, this is Bond without the guns, babes, gadgets and before cell phones. Everyone plays their parts well and while some reviewers have said the only downside to this movie is you have to listen, my first response is to roll my eyes.
It is rather nice to see Benedict not playing the high functioning sociopath in the room and is enjoyable to watch when he’s sent into the lion’s den so to speak.
Gary Oldman does an excellent job with his role of disgraced spy master brought back in from the cold. With this home life in ruins the only thing he had was work and his life is menial tasks until he goes back to work. And, work he does, like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the characters go through the motions of data collecting until the pieces fit together in the end.
The only thing missing from the movie was a Karla, the head spy master for the Russians, he is the shark from Jaws throughout the entire picture, a presence we feel but never see his face. I would have cast David Suchet aka Hercule Poirot since he did a good job eating scenery in Executive Decision.
On a closing note, for those of my generation that have not seen the original BBC Mini-Series, you’ll like it, it has Obi-Wan in it.