Film Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

This film has been heaped with critical acclaim and the posters that seem to be up in every tube station, implore everyone to see this multiple 5 starred “film event of the year“. But what did this blogger think of it? It’s good, a tad too slow paced for my taste though it a fine example of intelligent filmmaking.

The movie follows Gary Oldman’s character Smiley, as he tries to deduce which member of a team of spies working for the British government, is a double agent working for the Russians. This basic premise would not sound out of place in a high octane big Hollywood film spy thriller with Matt Damon or George Clooney, and no doubt plenty of gadgets. That could be a fun flick, though Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on the novel of the same name by John le Carre is much more than that it is dramatic and intense.

And seeing as it is set in the 1970s the most impressive gadget at Oldman’s disposal is a reel to reel recorder, this is the age of paper work and long hard thinking. The film has one of the best British casts assembled in recent years joining Oldman is Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham, and even Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger from Only Fools) and the new Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch are in it as Smileys aides.

All of the actors give greats performances filled with emotion. I think the cast and their good work are essentially the main reason the film still feels cinematic as the plot could possibly be better suited to a TV series, like the original adaption of the book, which starred Alex Guinness as Smiley.

My main issue with the film is actually the marketing, the poster makes it look more like an action thriller whereas this is much more a sit down and talk this out dramatic thriller. So those expecting a good bit of gunplay will be sadly disappointed, the few scenes in the film were guns are on the screen, they are just being held in someone’s hand.

This film will no doubt be heaped with nominations come award season, I’m guessing releasing the movie before award season is a way to combat the prevalence of illegal screeners of the film appearing online which no doubt have a serious impact on box office.

Those looking for a well made, slow-burning superbly acted British film need to look no further.


Crime, Thriller, Drama | UK, 2011 | 15 | 16th September 2011 (UK) | Cinema | Studiocanal | Dir. Tomas Alfredson | Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, John Hurt