Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, with Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch & Tomas Alfredson, Director. One phrase describes this incredible film: A genuine Cold War exercise in spycraft; London-style. There were so many bright stars in this that the running time, 127 minutes, could barely contain them. Really, I’m not kidding. Most of the above-mentioned were barely utilized. However; I’m sure each & every one chomped at the bit to get a seat at this table.
This film is taken (inspired/derived) directly from a 1979 TV mini-series starring Alec Guinness. Which I intended to see, subsequent to this film, but have since changed my mind. There’s only so much 1970’s decor that I can stand before becoming violently ill. However; I might have to bite the bullet, just to see Guinness in this. We’ll see what happens.
Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is one of my all-time, absolute favorite actors. I can’t put into words, how much I admire his skill. He deftly plays a former second in command (to John Hurt’s first) at a London intelligence unit, who is sacked (with his boss) after an operation-gone-wrong in Hungary. He is covertly returned to duty, tasked to find a mole (double-agent), hiding in the top echelons of his former intelligence community. I must say, he’s the best contemporary, character actor in existence. I’m biased, of course. Dracula is one of my favorites – he was superior in that.
This is definitely a film that one must, absolutely pay attention to the dialogue’s detail. In order not to get lost. I’ve used the word “authentic” to describe it because there is no real twist at the end. Someone needs to be caught & Oldman’s character goes about doing so.
The film’s strength is its attention to the detail of the time (the 1970’s) & to the kind of subterfuge that was low voltage between the West & the Soviet empire. The film’s glory was its estimable cast, each so endowed with artistic ability that a flick of the finger & twitch of the eye is quite something to see. Enjoyable to film nuts, such as myself.
Other than Oldman, Strong (The Way Back, Green Lantern) is one of the standouts in this drama. He is pure emotion! From beginning to end. Also, Cumberbatch who plays an intelligence underling who gets the gig supporting Oldman’s efforts in secret; is quite effective. Though one can tell he is trying too hard to show his stuff. His attempt is admirable & he’s one to watch for in the future. Perhaps in my next review!
This is a mystery. If you’re not in the mood for one, don’t see it. Perhaps I should detail this further by saying it’s an English mystery, no Americans to see & the Soviets in the background.
I recommend this heartily but it’s a d!mn good mystery.