Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Movie Review

Language - English
Genre - Drama, Espionage, Thriller
**ing - Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy

Release - 2011

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the year. Directed by Tomas Alfredson of Let the Right One In fame, the British espionage thriller is based on the best-selling Jon Le Carre novel of the same name, which has already inspired a successful  BBC 6-Part television adaptation. A reasonable commercial success, the movie recently received 3 Oscar nominations, including that of Best Actor for Gary Oldman's performance as the middle aged taciturn spy George 'Smiley', the lead protagonist of Le Carre's Karla Trilogy.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy revolves around the investigation into a reported mole that has infiltrated the highest echelons of British Intelligence, known as the 'Circus'. Tomas Alfredson honors Le Carre's vision of the international spy saga where the effervescence of spy thrillers such as the Bourne Trilogy or the narcissistic machiavellianism of James Bond outings is replaced by an almost meditative investigation behind the unmasking of the traitor.

Jon Hurt is superb as Control, the head of 'Circus' riled with the suspicion of a mole placed by the incognito Russian spymaster Karla. His sudden outbursts provide the few rare moments of raw energy in the film. His coterie of ambitious career-driven spymasters, all under his suspicion, with the likes of Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones give subtle and nuanced performances. Mark Strong is convincing as the wronged and worn-down spy. But the real surprises are the relatively younger actors Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch who are brilliant as the young blood amidst the seasoned veterans, standing their own. This could be said both in reference to their characters as well as their performances. The star of the movie undoubtedly is Gary Oldman who gives one of the finest performances of his remarkable career. Restrained, methodical and observant, he lives the character and is definitely one of the leading contenders for the Oscar. 

Set in London during the 70's at the height of Cold War, Alfredson expertly captures the suspicions, paranoia, self-serving pacts, greed and ambition in the intelligence community. His task made easier by the intricate source material, though Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan did a wonderful job with the screenplay adaptation of the extremely complex novel; and undoubtedly the most stellar cast of 2011. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has all the elements of an international espionage thriller, the shootings, back-stabbings, stake-outs, torture and deceptions, but they play out like moves on a chess board rather than a adrenaline filled ride. If you miss the good old days of classic espionage thrillers, this is the closest you can hope to get.