Based on the classic novel by John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is set in the UK in 1973 at the height of the cold war. British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) head Control (John Hurt) and his top-ranking lieutenant George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are both forced into retirement after a mission involving respected secret agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) turns unexpectedly deadly. As the Cold War continues to escalate, suspicions of a Soviet double agent begin to grow within the SIS. Subsequently summoned by Undersecretary Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney), Smiley is secretly reemployed by the SIS in order to root out the double agent suspected of sharing top-secret British intelligence with the Russians. Meanwhile, as Smiley and his new partner Agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) begin systematically examining all of the official missions and records involving MI6, the veteran spy can’t help but recalling an encounter he once had with Karla, a dangerous Russian operative, years prior. At first, uncovering the identity of the infiltrator seems nearly impossible. Smiley and Guillam get a big break, however, when undercover agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) reveals that he has fallen for a mysterious woman in Turkey named Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova) who may have a crucial lead. Later, upon learning that Control had comprised a list of five possible suspects, code named Tinker (Toby Jones), Tailor (Colin Firth, Soldier (Ciarán Hinds), Poor Man (David Dencik) and Spy – none other than Smiley himself – the investigation begins to heat up again.
The cast for this movie is absolutely first class. I think this will be a strong contender for the movie of the year. My only reservation is that it might draw comparisons to the excellent British TV serial of the early 80s.
From the Guardian newpaper (UK):
This Tinker Tailor is a weightless, slo-mo nightmare taking place in what looks like an aquarium filled with poison gas instead of water: I found it more gripping and involving than any crash-bang action picture, and it is anchored by Gary Oldman’s tragic mandarin, a variation on Alec Guinness which transfers the emphasis away from George Smiley’s wounded feelings to his cool capacity for unconcern in the face of violence, a hint of a daredevil past, long mummified by bureaucratic self-control and a schoolmasterly scorn for his victim’s weakness and disloyalty, while seeing how easily any agent could give the wretched Judas kiss. What a treat this film is, and what an unexpected thrill.