Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Pursuit of the Truth

Rated: R Violence, Some Sexuality/Nudity and Language.
Release Date: December 9, 2011
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 min

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan, novel by John le Carre
Cast: Gary Oldman, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy. Mark Strong, David Dencik, Kathy Burke

SYNOPSIS: In 1973 and the battles of the Cold War, veteran spy George Smiley is summoned out of forced semi-retirement by the British Minister of Defense to uncover a mole high up in the MI6 ranks.

REVIEW: Tomas Alfredson, best known in the states for the Norwegian vampire film Let the Right One In (the American version was Let Me In), takes on the John le Carre Cold War spy novel and the original 1979 Alec Guinness TV mini-series with a script from the late Bridget O'Connor (Mrs. Ratcliffe's Revolution) and Peter Straughan (The Debt, The Men Who Stare At Goats).

The head of MI6 Control (John Hurt, Immortals) brings in agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong, Green Lantern) for a covert assignment in Budapest to try and turn a Russian general who may have information on a mole in the upper ranks of the MI6 organization itself. When that assignment utterly fails, Control and espionage veteran spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight) are forced out of the agency, replaced by their younger subordinates. When more rumor comes to light about a mole in the organization, the Minister of Defense asks George to come out of forced semi-retirement to run a covert operation to discover the truth. Paired with young agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch, War Horse), Smiley sets out to methodically piece together all the information and proof he and his team can to ferret out the traitor.

From the opening sequence in Control's 
smoky dusty apartment flat where Control asks agent Jim Prideaux to venture to Budapest to turn a Russian general who may hold vital information as to a mole in MI6's Circus command, director Alfredson sets a mood, background and style akin to a film actually shot in the 70s. In the era of the Cold War, where every battle was covert and quiet, the film runs the same way. Slow and methodical, you will not see over the top stunts or shoot outs. Instead, you follow Oldman's George Smiley unravel clues that set him and his team on a path to exposing the truth. Using flashbacks, interrogations, and discussions, the story introduces clues and characters just when they are needed. The junior agent Ricki Tarr, played by Tom Hardy (Warrior), who tries to ensnare a Russian diplomat and instead tries to turn his wife Belinda (Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, One Dayisn't seen until well into the second act.

Clocking in at over 2 hours, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is long, but not long enough. The original adaption was a TV mini-series. This time, as a theatrical event, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy loses a little bit in the translation. The identity of a spy asset known only as Carla on a chess piece left by Control for Smiley to find is referenced in conversation between Smiley and Peter but seemed to be lost on some moviegoers afterward. The plot is streamlined and straightforward for the attentive, but may seem convoluted for those expecting everything to be utterly explained to them at the end.

Gary Oldman is superb as the senior agent George Smiley. Rarely speaking until necessary, Oldman brings a quiet knowledge and expertise to the character. The rest of the cast is as high of caliber as Oldman in every regard. John Hurt is fantastic, even in as pivotal but limited role as Control. Mark Strong, Colin Firth (The King's Speech) as the adulterous Bill Hayden, Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger) as the conniving Percy Alleline, David Dencik (War Horse) as the wavering Toby Esterhase and Ciaran Hinds (The Debt) as the steel-eyed Roy Bland, and Tom Hardy as the burned agent play their parts exceptionally well.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy breaks the current espionage movie mold by not given everything away at the beginning or explaining everything away at the end. Many will be turned off by this novel thinking concept, but it shouldn't detract from giving the film a look. Shot with alternate warm and cold tones, the era of 1970s Cold War era is picture perfect, if not perfect for everyone.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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