Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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Released:  Friday, December 9, 2011  
Length:  127 minutes
Studio: Focus Features
Genre: Drama/Suspense
Rating: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaUnder 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


In 1970s England, Control (John Hurt), the head of MI6, dispatches a spy (Mark Strong) to meet with a Hungarian general who knows the identity of a Soviet spy within the organization's ranks. However, the mission goes wrong, and the general dies before he can reveal the information. Undersecretary Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney) calls veteran agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) back from forced retirement to ferret out the mole and stop the flow of vital British secrets to the Russians.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Theatrical Review

The British movie Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not for everyone.  It's a mind-numbing film for audiences that crave an involving storyline, can deal with British accents and are into the underpinning of espionage that fueled The Cold War in the 1970's.  I am not a big fan of films like this one, but those who are into author John le Carre's The Constant Gardner, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and The Tailor of Panama will eat this one up like good ice cream.
The story involves Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and the spies that report to it.  One spy in particular, retired agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) has the best record for getting the information needed to keep the bureau on top of outside elements that may jeopardize Britain's security. When things go wrong during a mission by operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) in Hungary a Soviet mole entrenched in British Intelligence is suspected and Smiley gets commissioned to ferret him out.
The story, although interesting and intriguing, moves along slowly under the direction of Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) who has all the tools to make the film a thriller.  With a cast of brilliant British/Irish actors including Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Tom Hardy (My Week With Marlyn), John Hurt (Melancholia), Mark Strong (Sherlock Homes) and Claran Hinds (The Debt) peppered throughout Alfredson uses the ‘bling' to work his audience into an acting feeding frenzy, but still comes up with a tedious mind-numbing movie.
Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy received the billing of a thriller, but the British idea of suspense proves to be more of a yawner and not an Americanized version filled with action, twists and turns to which us Yanks are accustomed. It's no James Bond or Sherlock Holmes, that's for sure! Even with the great cast I found the dialogue hard to understand at times and my mind translating British lingo all too often. That said, I do admit there is an audience for this kind of spy story and for that I concede to all the fuss the film has been piling up, but it's just not my cup of tea.
The movie has been rated R by the MPAA for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language. The two hour plus length needs a bit of pruning and the cinematography gets dull and uneventful.
FINAL ANALYSIS:  Unless you are an Englishman, very patient or an avid follower of writer John le Carre, my suggestion is wait for the DVD. (C )


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