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3.7 out of 5 stars679
3.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 January 2016
First off, I want to say that I own the book, the 7 part Tv series, the BBC4 audiobook and this DVD of the film. I'm not trying to make out, I'm some kind of expert, (I know I'm not!), but to make the point that each is unique and has to be judged on its own merits. They are all in a different medium and are distinct, although the source material is obviously the same. I mean what is the point of critically comparing any film to its book?
Anyway, I approached this film in that way, on its own merits and I think it is very accomplished. The acting on show is first class, with turns from Firth, Hurt, Cumberbatch and Toby Jones and Tom Hardy. At the centre, Oldman is very good as the introspective, cerebral, Smiley. There is a terrific little scene early on, in a car, where there is a wasp or bee buzzing around inside the vehicle. Whereas the other occupants flap their arms around trying to shoo it away, Smiley simply watches it and calmly opens his window to let it fly out. It nicely frames the character of the man in a simple scene with no dialogue.
The identity of a spy in MI6 is slowly revealed as Smiley, methodically, pieces the clues together.
(As a side note, the lives of these people really don't seem very appealing to me at all. just a life of suspicion and subterfuge, with a bit of paranoia and loneliness thrown in, at no extra cost).
I gave it 4 stars out of 5, not as a film adaptation of a book, but as a film. It is very well made, the acting is top-notch and it has a gripping story. Ticks the boxes for me.
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on 1 January 2013
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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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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on 5 January 2016
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, did i get it at first, no. If your going to watch be ready to think and listen intently to everything which occurs in the film.
Its aim is to identity a Russian-planted mole in the upper ladder of members of the Circus, the upper organization of the British Intelligence Services.
One thing that made it very confusing? remembering all their names, it's easier to remember them as tinker tailor soldier poorman beggarman if you can remember them by that.
I won't lie, i did find it confusing I had to re tracked through each detail they presented me with before understanding how it all came about. Only bit of advise if your going to watch this film, pay very close attention to everything Smiley does and know that control does trust him once they leave.
Finally enjoyed the fact there were some big name celebs throughout : Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Benedict cumberbatch some of many.
I do recommend you watch this if you like something to thin k about and enjoy trying to solve who it is yourself. If not turn back people.
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on 12 May 2016
Unfortunately, very weak. Weak and unlogic script. More flashy than serious. Brilliant actors made to play something messy. When you watch the old series the plot gradually unravels itself. And the seriousness of the whole affairs and the vulnarability of people is impressing you. But this version is just a flop. Sorry Gary, I am very fond of you as an actor, but when director is not able and script is a crap. even the best can't help it sometimes.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 January 2012
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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on 12 October 2013
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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on 8 December 2011
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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on 24 March 2016
I know that there are other reviews that felt that the film was not that good. I thought it was, it is very much a thinking film rather than an action film,that perhaps, most were expecting to see. It is a different Tinker Tailor Spy I agree, but then the original series is in a class of its own.
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on 8 April 2015
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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