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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Ltd Edition Steelbook) - Double Play (Blu-ray + DVD)
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Adapted from John le Carré’s uniquely British 1973 espionage novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is set in the analogue conditions of the Cold War, a time when cassette tape and Telex were your only gadgets and where middle-aged spies exchanged looks of cordial hatred--and the occasional loyalty--like Bond and Bourne exchange weapons, women and warm locations. Gary Oldman (Leon, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) plays George Smiley, the former agent who’s called in from the cold to hunt down one of his own--a Soviet mole in the top ranks of the leaky secret service that runs MI5 and MI6. Once inside, his investigations are simultaneously professional and deeply personal: digging around for one double-crossing colleague selling secrets to the Russians only unearths another sleeping with his wife. Le Carré’s London hasn’t been updated so much as back-filled with autumnal 1970s design: brown and pumpkin patterns upholster the shabby little rooms and crooked staircases through which the spies pursue each other, while the supporting cast--John Hurt, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Kathy Burke, Mark Strong and a porcine Toby Jones--is regularly squeezed, often several titans of British cinema at a time, into cramped British cars or shelf-sized offices. George Smiley has a natural home in Oldman, who, like Smiley, has a self-effacing control of his craft--hiding himself in outrageous villains or declining a credit entirely, as he did in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal. With its atmospheric drab and novelistic pace, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the kind of chamber-piece that suits showy ensemble performances, but Oldman’s turn as Smiley is the most subtle in recent history. --Leo Batchelor
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I watched the blu-ray version of the film and what was very noticeable was how noisy the picture is which would be due to upgrading from a less than HD quality film stock, so I would advise buying the DVD version where that noise should not be apparent.
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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