Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Static Mass Rating: 2/5
Optimum Releasing

Release date: September 16th, 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 127 minutes

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan

Cast: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham, Stephen Rea

The spy/espionage thriller is a genre of its own and not to be taken lightly. Such films, where we never know who’s telling the truth and everything’s at stake, have yielded more than a few cinematic treasures.

Hitchcock, the master of suspense gave us films like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1937) while other filmmakers had The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Day of the Jackal (1973) and The Odessa File (1974) to offer.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

More recently though we had The Bourne Identity (2002), Body of Lies (2008) and The American (2010) and director Tomas Alfredson hopes to add one more to that list with his first English language feature.

Based on the novel by John le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is set in the early 70’s where George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a semi-retired intelligence officer, after being sacked along with a handful other colleagues, is now assigned the task of uncovering a possible high-ranking Soviet agent within the Circus – MI6. Following a somewhat slow start, we then find out through a disgraced agent, Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), that this is indeed the case, but who could it be?

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

There are many suspects to choose from, including Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) and Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds), but there are also so many obstacles Smiley has to face before the truth is uncovered as well. This isn’t made any easier by also finding out that Hayden is sleeping with his wife, but together with Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) they investigate every possible lead to find out who the double agent is that’s eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

Despite its impressive cast, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy failed to give me something to care about and believe me, I tried to find something in the 2 hours I spent watching it. I didn’t feel drawn to the story and in my opinion it just didn’t translate very well on the screen. The extraordinarily long scenes where nothing’s told might have been devised as a way to convey a certain stylish mood for the film, but they hampered the story from moving along.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I almost felt something in the scenes where Smiley confronts his wife, but she remains faceless throughout the film. Similarly, the exact nature of Hayden’s relationship with Jim Prideaux is never fully expressed. Doing so might have given an emotional boost to the overall story, but as it’s not in the source material I’m not sure how fans would feel about such a deviation.

It was difficult to build a rapport with the characters because Alfredson chooses to focus on so many of them. In this way it spreads itself so thin, especially with its sexually ambiguous vibe, it’s just trying to do too much all at once without doing one thing really well – entertain. I have no doubt that it will do well on release though, but for me Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy won’t be joining my list of great spy movies.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Have you ever wondered how Santa gets all those presents to every boy and girl in just one night? And has he ever accidentally missed one child? Not with Arthur around!

In the concluding part of our interview with West Is West’s producer, Leslee Udwin, we talk about the casting of Ila Arun and the possibilities of a third film.

Scorsese’s Taxi Driver might not be the best advertising for Existentialism, but its themes cannot be ignored in relation to Catholic imposed ideas in western society.

In The Reflecting Pool, the father of a 9/11 victim and a journalist start to question the official account of events surrounding the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks.

Now in its 30th year, An American Werewolf In London, written and directed by John Landis, reminded us to stay on the road, keep clear of the moors and beware the moon!