Movies You Have Not Seen But Should: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


Gary Oldman stars in this week’s Movies You Have Not Seen But Should!

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It’s time for another “Movies You Have Not Have Seen….But You Should”. This week we will look at the 2011 espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This film includes Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Gary Oldman.

The film is set in London during the early 1970s. It was during the time of the Cold War and on both sides of the Iron Curtain countries were trying to gain an advantage. Because of this, countries send in spies to get intelligence to try and gain an upper hand. And in the midst of such espionage, tensions ran high and skepticism was a way of life. There were double agents and the threat of death if one was caught. With this as a backdrop, we get a look into such lives.

Tinker Tailor Solder Spy originally was a novel written in 1974 by John le Carre and was first adapted in 1979 as a BBC TV miniseries. As said earlier, the time period for the film is the early 70s. British Intelligence agency, nicknamed “The Circus” was led by “Control” (played by Hurt), the top man in charge. As the film begins, it is October 1973. Control sends an agent named Jim Prideaux (played by Strong, who stars right now in the AMC TV Series Low Winter Sun) to Budapest, Hungary to meet with a Hungarian general to acquire some valuable information. However, Jim is shot and captured by Soviet agents. Because of this, Control is forced into retirement along with his right hand man George Smiley (played by Oldman).

A new Chief is put in place named Percy Alleline (played by Toby Jones, who has also starred in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Hunger Games) and puts in his inner circle Bill Haydon (played by Firth), Roy Bland (played by Ciaran Hinds, character actor who has had roles in such films as Road to Perdition, Munich and There Will Be Blood), and Toby Esterhase (played by David Dencik, most known for his role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The group initiated a program with the codename “Witchcraft” with the goal to obtain Soviet intelligence. The idea was to take the intel gathered and share it with the Americans in exchange for American intelligence.

Accusations of a mole inside of British Intelligence arise. They are brought about by Ricki Tarr (played by Hardy). This brings Smiley, now on the outside, in to investigate. Smiley gets a small group of people including Peter Guillam (played by Cumberbatch) to help in the investigation. As the investigation goes on, Smiley comes to find out that Prideaux is alive and the true reason behind his mission to Hungary was to get the name of the mole. The suspects had different codenames. They were “Tinker” or Alleline, “Tailor” or Haydon, “Soldier” or Bland, “Poorman” or Esterhaus, and “Beggerman” Smiley himself.

So is the mole? Is the intel gathered from “Witchcraft” legit or a smokescreen? Is Smiley the hero or the villain? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

The film first premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September 5, 2011. It then was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2011. It received a theatrical release in the United States starting in January 2012 in limited release. The film got mostly positive reviews. It received 83% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes and got a Metacritic score of 85. The film topped the British box office for three consecutive weeks and ended up grossing over $80 million dollars worldwide (off of a $21 million dollar budget). It also received 3 Academy Award nominations at the 84th Academy Awards in February 2012. Those were Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Actor for Gary Oldman.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Amazon Instant Video. With a lot of good work coming out of Britain and the U.K., this is a great film to add to that list. If you’re a fan of spy movies or dramas, this is a great film to check out. Like many films highlighted here, it may be one that you may not have seen, but you should.

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