Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
One of the best acting work is overshadowed by very tricky plot, which makes the film hard to follow.
Spy movies have always been an essential part of the film industry. And if by saying “spy” one can only remember infamous Agent 007, this is partially because everyone assumes espionage to be a crazy action-packed thriller with indestructible heroes, colorful villains with big fluffy cats, incredibly beautiful damsels in distress, cool widgets, and fast “swiss army knife” cars. Well, in reality, espionage is handling incredible amount of information to figure out who is friend and who is not. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” gives a unique perspective of the stuff happening in the command center, rather than on the streets of some exotic city.
In 1973 head of MI6 – Control (John Hurt) – believes there’s a Soviet double agent in the top ranks of his organization. He sends one of his operatives Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Budapest to discover who the mole is. This operation turns to be a complete failure – Jim is killed and Control, as well as his second in command George Smiley (Gary Oldman), are forced to resign, due to the emerged diplomatic crisis. Following 2 months of forced retirement Control dies, and Smiley is called back out of retirement to found out that new evidence of the existence of the mole has emerged and is being appointed by government to figure out who the mole is. And it turns out that the leaked information could only come from one of 5 people in the new command of MI6 – codenamed “Tinker” (Toby Jones), “Tailor” (Colin Firth), “Soldier” (Ciaran Hinds), “Poor Man” (David Dencik) and “Beggarman” (Smiley himself).
This is indeed one of the best cast I’ve seen last year. Being a British production, creators were able to bring all the top of the British acting talent to the film (plus couple of Russian actors, including Konstantin Khabenskiy). The incredible amount of A-star actors, not only in the lead parts, but also in the supporting roles give truly amazing show. Many people have praised the performance of Gary Oldman, in fact he is nominated for Academy Award this year, however in my opinion he is highly overshadowed by not the less spectacular performances of the rest of cast. Colin Firth proves he can even play cunning and emotionless character. John Hurt provides an interesting insight on the aging chief of the organization.
Special node to Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, “Sherlock” himself from BBC), Tom Hardy (yes, Eames from “Inception“) and Mark Strong (yes, Lord Blackwood from “Sherlock Holmes“). They portray completely incomparable to their previous works emotional characters. In fact, I enjoyed Mark Strong so much I am even sure he would have made much better James Bond than Daniel Craig is.
Directing is done by Tomas Alfredson, who has penned Swedish modern vampire thriller “Let the right one in“. Whereas, that movie was astonishingly done in the era of vampire-romance craze with its own interpretation of vampire girl – human boy interaction and according horror genre specific tricks, he made this movie in completely different style. Interesting thing I noticed, film structurally is close to “Mulholland Drive” by David Lynch. Throughout the film vague and sometimes unexplained scenes are happening, which are supposed to bring the viewer some predicament of future events awaiting us, or trying to explain some memories that supposed to be essential for the plot. So if you are not paying enough attention you might miss an important detail. Or might not at all, since some of the details seemed to me unrelated to the story at all.
It all comes to the good screenwriting in the end. And even if I assume the film is downgraded version of the book it was based on, I believe you need to be a master counter-spy agent or possess some kind of same intellectual abilities to interpret the complicated web of espionage affairs going on to fully understand the intended message. Film doesn’t explain part of it, the viewer is left to deduce (or not) the rest. I’m sure you will make your own interpretation of a random scene in your specific manner, different from mine, or even the director’s or the writers’. You will have to remember incredible amount of names, places, and relations.
In any way, it is a nice and interesting watch if you enjoy this kind of setup. Just bear in mind, you will need maximum attention if you decide to go for this movie.