Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, for me, was one of those classic examples of a film not reaching the ridiculous expectations you had set for it. From the brilliant casting to the interesting story set in the back drop of what looked to be a very well established period, I was just looking forward to this movie being a masterpiece. What I got instead was a great film. Unfortunately, what I realized but the end was that I wanted to like this film more than I actually did.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy follows the story of retired British Intelligence spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman). Smiley has just been recruited to find a mole that is “right at the top of the circus”. The russians had placed the mole years ago and George Smiley is in a very special position as he can look for the traitor outside the boundaries of being a known British Intelligence spy. After the slightly overlong exposition of the film, Tinker Tailor becomes a tense game of chess between Smiley and the unknown mole that results in an intriquing story that examines ideas of loyalty, duty and betrayal.
The overall tale of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was completely fascinating as I truthfully wanted to know where this tale of spies would go. Unfortunately, the film was, particularly in the beginning, incredibly slow at times and that wasn’t a huge problem because a majority of these moments were extremely fitting, yet there were times were I simply wasn’t gripped and my attention wasn’t kept. Then, there were other times that could be looked at as slow, but kept me on the edge of my seat and if the film had been more constant about grabbing my attention it unquestionably would’ve been the masterpiece I wanted it to be.
This was certainly a film that didn’t spoon feed you information so that you can follow the story and I loved that about this film. Though, I won’t sit here, lie, and say that I caught every single minute detail of this film because I didn’t. With all the names and the British Intelligence lingo, it was easy to get slightly lost. I will say that the film never failed to bring you back on track, but it’s because of all the information being tossed around that I couldn’t always decipher and enjoy every moment.
That being said, by the end of it all, I actually loved this movie. Sure, I had to spend some time catching up on what was happening and at times I found myself not being fully attentive. By the end though, practically everything made sense. In this slower tale of cat-and-mouse whereas yes I was not always captivated, most of the time I was and that was mainly because of amazing performances and top-notch direction.
The cast in general was just phenomenal There were three performances that stuck out for me though. Mark Strong has done a great job in everything I’ve seen him in and the same goes for his performance here. Tom Hardy played a supporting character here, but when he was on screen his performance was subdued and yet I was completely invested in everything he was doing. The real praise belongs to Gary Oldman as the protagonist whose brilliant subtleties make for nothing short of one of the best performances he’s ever given.
Tomas Alfredson has done something really special here. The film is simply beautiful in the tone and period it sets up. This is a taut and at times tension-filled tale of realistic espionage. This isn’t James Bond shooting a missile from the license plate of his expensive car or Ethan Hunt climbing a skyscraper, these are spies spying and for the most part Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is every bit as enjoyable.