“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is a great old fashion espionage film. It is based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré, of the same name. Gary Oldman stars as George Smiley, who is brought out of retirement to track down a mole in the Circus. The Circus is the code name for the British Secret Intelligence Service and is the highest echelon of the agency. At the beginning of the film we see the Chief of the Circus, Control played by John Hurt, asking Jim Prideaux, played by Mark Strong, to go to Budapest on a mission to find out the identity of the mole. The mission goes horribly wrong and Control is forced into retirement. Control’s right hand man, George Smiley, Circus’ Deputy Chief is forced into retirement as well. Control dies soon after.
When the Permanent Undersecretary to the Secretary of State Defense gets a call from a Circus Scalphunter who was thought to have defected, with information that there is a mole in the Circus he calls George Smiley back into service to track down this mole.
Back at the Circus the four top senior figures left are unaware of Smiley’s efforts to determine which one of them is the mole. Smiley has one staff person from the Circus assisting in his efforts to track down the mole. Smiley also tracks down other former Circus employees for information and help in his mission.
Gary Oldman is fantastic in the role of George Smiley. For the first 10 minutes or so of him on screen he doesn’t even speak but is able to convey all he needs to with facial expressions and mannerism that you don’t even realize he hasn’t spoken until he finally does speak. The rest of the cast does a good job as well. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when it cuts back to a Circus holiday party when all members of the cast were still working together in happier times. These flashbacks are shown throughout the movie. As the movie progresses and you learn more about each individual player you begin to see hints of the true nature of each player by watching their interactions at the party.
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy is the first novel in a trilogy. I wonder if the they will make the other books into movies. I hope so.
8 sandwiches out of 10
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