Two-minute review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

After a good two-ish months of waiting for this movie to show up stateside, my dad and I finally went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

As a British spy-thriller/historical drama, I surely wasn’t expecting an endless stream of car chases and explosions and other such nonsense, but it wasn’t the snoozefest the critics made it out to be, either. It was…somewhere in between.

This is definitely one of those films where the trailer is more dramatic, more engaging, more… better, than the film itself. Gary Oldman, as a newly retired intelligence agent is once again flawless and aptly restrained, while his character is brought back into the fold to smoke out a mole in organization. What organization? You know, I’m really not sure. It’s only ever referred to as “the circus.”

A lot of sordid transactions take place and general shiftyness abounds. People who are really innocent sure go out of their way to make themselves look damn guilty, and people who are damn guilty seem to fade into the background for much of the film’s duration. But, after everything, when all is revealed, the element of surprise is still left in tact. It just takes a really long time to get the audience there.

Word of warning: There are a couple of disturbing and intense moments that will jar you out of lethargy. So be ready.

I will say, the film does a good job of keeping clear of the predictable American spy/mystery/thriller device where a great deal of attention is placed on one, maybe two characters to throw focus off the actual guilty party. The characters in Tinker Tailor are woven together organically, keeping the focus where it is necessary to move the story along. Not to serve a formula; “must contain X number of twists before we can reveal ‘whodunnit’.”

If you’re in the mood for an understated, but well-produced mystery, I’d say put a kettle on and enjoy! Yes, that was a recommendation to wait for the DVD.

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One Response to Two-minute review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

  1. Siskel/Ebert says:

    “The circus” = MI5, the British version of the CIA. It was referred to briefly in the movie but you must have been snoozing when that part came on.

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