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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the book, not the BBC serial, not Bond, not Bourne
Why compare this 2 hour film with the 6 hour serial, or require it to be a precise rendition of a book of more than 400 pages? I thought it a fine attempt to take many plot threads and make two hours of entertainment from them, I enjoyed items that were not present in the book. I do wonder though how the following books will be filmed now that Guillam's character has...
Published on 1 Jan. 2013 by Mark Dyer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars T, T, S, S. Ver 2
I am a big fan of the BBC version so when this came to the big screen I looked forward to seeing another version and when I did I was horrified. The location, the story line and obviously the characters had different actors and I wasn't impressed, in fact I couldn't believe John Le Carre endorsed this production. But when I saw it on Amazon at a bargain basement price I...
Published 1 month ago by Steve


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the book, not the BBC serial, not Bond, not Bourne, 1 Jan. 2013
By 
Mark Dyer (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Why compare this 2 hour film with the 6 hour serial, or require it to be a precise rendition of a book of more than 400 pages? I thought it a fine attempt to take many plot threads and make two hours of entertainment from them, I enjoyed items that were not present in the book. I do wonder though how the following books will be filmed now that Guillam's character has been changed.

Firstly, there are no explosions, chases, babes or helicopters (as if any potential viewer didn't know that) so be prepared to sit, watch and think rather than expect action and glitz to flow over you. Sure, there are some holes and inconsistencies; I suppose that I take a less forensic view to viewing films than do many of the reviewers here.

I don't care that we don't see the characters build to point the way to the identity of the mole because for me the identity of the mole is immaterial. This is about loyalty, betrayal and sacrifice. A few examples:
* Guillam ends his relationship immediately on considering that it might be used against him, quite a sacrifice in my opinion.
* A terrific moment of acting as Smiley makes a deal with Tarr that he knows will violate Tarr's trust because he can't fulfil the spirit of the deal.
* What a strange world where someone who makes such a sacrifice for their country ends up living in a caravan and teaching at a boarding school after being bunged only a few quid and a car.

There were some nice juxtapositions that made me think of how fragile lives might be and the fine line between normality and hardship. During a most stressful task undertaken by Guillam we see many characters singing along and playing along to George Formby singing Mr Woo; presumably chosen in the script as being light and frivolous and something that Roy Bland would be likely to sing afterwards to show Guillam how closely he was being observed. Whilst Prideau was being tortured his `minder' was just sitting by reading a newspaper to while away the time.

The atmosphere was wonderfully dusty, smoky and brown so conveying the impression that these are strange, quiet people in a strange world. Oldman's acting was great but then I almost always agree that `less is more'.

Lastly, there was the great irony of the Soviet national anthem at the Christmas party; tremendous, made me laugh.

If you judge it on its own merits and treat it as entertainment then I think it is good value. It's not as good as the TV serial but why shouldn't it be different?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compact Reminder, 11 Mar. 2014
By 
S. M. Evans "asylum69" (SOLIHULL, W Midlands, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Considering it's only a fraction of the length of the well-known BBC adaptation with Alec Guinness, it's not bad. The performances are almost all sterling. Unfortunately I think John Hurt was miscast again. A bit too much of something to feel realistic. Everyone else was really good.
I'll be honest ... I've not read the book. The only comparison I have is the BBC version, and I do remember that quite well; everyone fits in nicely, and the overall tone is convincingly of the correct era. If you just want a little something to remind you of the basics and don't want to go through all the BBC episodes, this covers the important bases.
I still think the BBC version outshines it by far, but I didn't dislike this film like I was expecting to. I quite enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars T, T, S, S. Ver 2, 8 April 2015
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
I am a big fan of the BBC version so when this came to the big screen I looked forward to seeing another version and when I did I was horrified. The location, the story line and obviously the characters had different actors and I wasn't impressed, in fact I couldn't believe John Le Carre endorsed this production. But when I saw it on Amazon at a bargain basement price I thought I would give it a second chance and do you know I actually enjoyed seeing it a second time. The same story but a different approach, Peter Guillam now portrayed as gay? Overall I still prefer the BBC approach to the original story and maybe that is the problem the actors did such a good job portraying their characters is had to envisage anyone else taking their place and none more so than Percy Alleline, perfected by Michael Aldridge, Toby Jones just didn't cut it for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gary Oldman delivers a memorable performance as George Smiley, 4 Feb. 2012
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This 2011 Working Title Films production of Le Carre's 1974 novel 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' has attracted positive critical reviews, been generally liked by audiences, received some well-deserved award nominations and reportedly made a healthy box-office profit on its modest US$21 million production cost, so is an unexpected commercial success for the French investor StudioCanal.

Director Tomas Alfredson has delivered a serious film for an intelligent audience, but due to the time-constraints of a single 120-minute feature film, the result necessarily compresses the story so much that you need to pay close attention. A complex plot full of intrigue, double-bluff and the slow revelation of characters' hidden motives through real-time action and flashbacks means if you know Le Carre's novel then you'll be better placed to enjoy the film on first time viewing; if you're unfamiliar with the source material, then seeing the film a second time might make for a more satisfying viewing experience as the number of characters and complexity of the plot can be a bit confusing on first pass.

All the cast deliver fine performances with Gary Oldman in superb form as the world-weary but calculating and highly intelligent George Smiley, who has been called out of forced retirement to carry out a discrete investigation to uncover a suspected Soviet mole operating at the highest level of `the circus', the inner core of the UK overseas intelligence service MI6. Oldman has become a fine mature actor and proves here that `less is more', dominating some of his scenes by sheer presence, often with sparse or even no dialogue.

The 1970s period detail is pretty accurate with clothes, hairstyles, cars, interiors and the drab accoutrements of office life - paper files, tele-printers, manual typewriters, telephones, dreary furniture - setting the tone. There's not much color here, and the film's look is bleak and washed-out to reinforce the subject matter and the mood. The scenes set in Budapest and Istanbul look even bleaker and greyer than London.

The film is true in spirit to Le Carre's 1974 novel, so not natural Hollywood fodder. There is no `hero' (Smiley is a kind of anti-hero); all the characters are in some way flawed and none very sympathetic; there is little cinematic action, no gun battles, explosions or car chases. There is precious little humor, but it's not that kind of film. The few scenes of violence are brief and understated, casual and shocking but never dwelled on. The audience is invited to pay attention, to watch the characters closely, to listen to the dialogue and think. The duplicitous and closed world of the secretive cold war spying game is very well realised, and has little in common with the glamorous, fast-paced eye-candy of James Bond films.

If you like your entertainment served on a plastic plate with fries and fizzy cola to wash it down, best steer clear of `Tinker Tailor'. This is a film for grown-ups, and a more sophisticated palette will better savour its qualities.

See if you can spot John Le Carre himself in a brief cameo role...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow burning spy drama, 30 Jan. 2012
By 
Jules (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is set inside the British intelligence agency Mi6, during the time of the cold war in the 1970's. It follows forcibly retired Mi6 hob knob George Smiley (Gary Oldman -The Book of Eli) who is to return on the quiet and select a small, trustworthy team, Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch -Sherlock) & Mendel (Roger Lloyd Pack -Only Fools and Horses). To delve into the goings on of previous Mi6 controller (John Hurt -The Elephant Man) who was fired, along with Smiley, after Mi6 agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong -Sherlock Holmes) was shot on a mission to gather information about uncovering a possible Soviet Spy in Mi6.

Overall i thought it was an enjoyable film from the aspect of finding out who the spy is, but i couldn't help feel that TTSP had too big an expectation placed upon it. I'd not heard of it before this, but iv'e seen this movie advertised so much, so i hoped it was going to be something amazing/special a mixture of action & espionage, but it didn't live up to my expectations overall. The few tenser moments were good, and the story kept me semi-interested, although the long winded conversations that didn't have any major relevance to the story did try my patience. On the action front it's quite bereft, the highlight being Mark Strong's cafe scene & watching Benedict Cumberbatch removing files from cabinets wasn't the kind of action i was looking for. I didn't feel any imminent danger for the characters, or for that matter any real empathy for them, with the exception of Gary Oldman's character. The 2 hour run time is very dedicated to telling the story of the characters, with lots of long winded office scenes, which made things drag on a little. A more snappy 1 hour 30 minutes run time could had possibly kept things more focused & better paced for a mainstream audience. They did a good job with the 1970's setting, which was well done & you get a good believable feeling for the era.

As you'd expect with a high profile British film like this, the cast is brimming with British acting talent from across a wide range of abilities. The support cast includes Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean OST), Ciarán Hinds (The Debt) and even comedian Kathy Burke put's in a serious inning.

In conclusion, nothing as great as i expected it to be, it's okay for one off viewing & would make for a decent 2 or 3 part drama to watch on the BBC on a Sunday, but not a film i will go back to watch again in a hurry. Worth a watch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The anti James Bond spy movie; subtle, slow in development but very well done, 30 Jan. 2012
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Starting with a disclaimer for fans, who are expecting a one on one adaptation of the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy book, or the associated Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1979] series - this is not it. Neither does it follow all aspects minutely, nor is it possible to cram the whole content successfully into two or so hours. It is, however a John Le Carre approved version and it has many a quality of its own, so it is best seen as a complement to the earlier works, rather than a remake.

It is also not an action packed, '007 style' spy thriller, with dashing agents chasing rather scantily clad girls and the odd evil mastermind. The movie is more in the line of Robert Baer's See No Evil book - spycraft much less as a glamour occupation and much more as a diligent, painstaking work, with betrayal, uncertainty, tricks of the trade, political maneuvering for position within one's own organization...

The acting is generally superb, with Gary Oldman delivering one of the performances of his lifetime. In spite of looking even more like a good elderly uncle than Alec Guinness in the original series, he successfully manages to bring in the 'steel' when required.

If you like subtlety, character development (Smiley really does develop), uncertainty, and intrigue, you will be well served. It will not serve though, if you are looking for an action filled thriller; nor if you want a minute recreation of the original book or the BBC series. Definitely one for people more interested in getting closer to the real world of spycraft than what Ian Flemming / James Bond can deliver.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, It's Not the TV series, but in its way, it's just as good, 16 Aug. 2013
By 
Macclad "Macclad" (Manchester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
I'll nail my colours to the mast first - I consider the BBC series to be the best thing ever on TV (and that includes the Wire, Sopranos, Mad Men etc).

But this is a MOVIE and is bound to be a different experience from many hours of TV. In many ways it's more real than the TV show, where the main device for illustrating that we're not in the world of James Bond is lots of men in suits smoking in a small room - but in the movie the spies are seen living real lives, doing mundane paperwork, commuting to work, wheeling bicycles into the office, lewdly discussing the office talent, getting lashed at the office Christmas party. Working in intelligence is just a job.

It's full of nice interesting touches - for example, the tense scenes where Peter Gwillam attempts to smuggle ACTUAL PAPER documents from HQ in his briefcase! No savant hackers here.
As for the actors, they generally match up well to the TV series - Hardy, Cummerbatch, Strong and Firth are equal to Bennett, Jayston, Bannen and Richardson - I was sceptical about Cummerbatch as Gwillam the enforcer, but he's genuinely intimidating and his uncontrolled anger in a confrontation with Ricky Tarr is ultra-real. And there's a lovely cameo by Kathy Burke playing older bonkers-dipso-nympho Connie Sachs.

That leaves Oldman as Smiley - a fine perfomance in my book - could any actor match up to Guinness? Probably not, but Oldman is at the top of his game and just about on a parr.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable film and as the previous reviewer said, can be watched more than once.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 12 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Having seen and enjoyed the Alec Guinness version and read the book this new version of Tinker Tailor was a big disappointment. Much of the original story had been cut and even the final scene didn't correspond to the original ending. Certainly a poor imitation and to us, a waste of money. Perhaps people who haven't seen the original would like it but our copy has now been donated to the local charity shop.
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215 of 266 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It either clicks or it doesn't, 8 Dec. 2011
By 
Must admit, I'm quite surprised that even the mainstream critics dared to rate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so highly. Not because it isn't brilliant, which it is, but because critics have to consider their readership and, well... I would say that if you are finding the film dull or uninvolving then it's just not your cup of tea, which is fine. In fairness it is very literary, the plot can be hard to keep up with and the dialogue is rather jargonistic (but really shouldn't be too difficult to decipher).
At the other end of the scale are the narrow-minded purists with their nostalgic view of the original BBC TV series, which was excellent for it's day but really doesn't hold up very well at all. I can remember when TV didn't pander to such short attention spans, but watching it on DVD I found the Alec Guinness version quite flat, and not in the moody, atmospheric way that it should be. It's okay to prefer the series, but that shouldn't come with an obligation to trash the film.
Tinker Tailor... gives us a small history lesson. This world of espionage is far removed from the bare-faced escapist fun of 007. The true face of the cold war in the 60's & 70's was this, a very private game played by lonely, vain, repressed old Oxbridge throwbacks in stuffy offices. Field agents were merely pawns to be used and abused. British Intelligence was under-funded, ineffective and disliked by the CIA. Gary Oldman's cool, understated incarnation of George Smiley views his former employer for what it has become- rejected, out-of-touch, eager to get back into the game and on the brink of it's own downfall. I hadn't read the novel beforehand but had no trouble following the plot or being absorbed by the story. All of the performances are great and the direction beautiful. What you get is a dark, dense, intelligent, sophisticated film. You may feel a little lost at times, but that's okay. All the pieces fit together in the end, and pretty much every scene turns out to have its own significance.
My only niggle would be a moment where we get to spend what seems like ten minutes watching Tom Hardy's character kissing his girlfriend. It felt like an intermission, but maybe that's just me. Apart from that, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the best film I've seen for years. At least LeCarre isn't as precious about his material as some of his fans. He loved it too.
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133 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not supposed to be the book, or the series..., 17 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
For everyone comparing this new movie to the book and the tv series (and I am a fan of both) - Le Carre himself has said in interviews that he categorically did not want someone just copying the book or even the series. He wanted a new take on the story. Yes, it is different. Of course it would have been nice to have characters fleshed out a bit more, but then, I think that will be the problem with anyone who has read the book or seen the series - you expect the same thing stuffed into an hour something, and that is nigh on impossible. My only personal gripe is that I didn't really understand some seemingly superficial changes, like Sam Collins (in the book) being changed in name to Gerry Westerby (considering Gerry is a whole big character on his own in the second book, and ultra posh to boot), Czech Republic being changed to Hungary etc. But that is minor, and overall, I think this was a great, quiet movie, the kind of thing you just don't get anymore. To the commentator who said this movie was more about betrayal than spies, it's probably true that this was the emphasis, but in the book, it is just as much about the nature of betrayal in relationships as it is about spies (in the book see Guillam/Camilla, Smiley/Ann, Little Bill/Prideaux, Connie/The Circus and even reality as she knew it, etc etc), to the point where you wonder if there is anything redeeming about the world outside of the Circus.
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011] by Tomas Alfredson (DVD - 2012)
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