Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

G-S-T Review…Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy brilliantly captures the zeitgeist of the Cold War era. For you purists out there, this work of art utilizes aged film grain throughout the entire picture. This is not a film set in the 1970’s, shot in HD and hurled at your face in 3D. This motion picture is one of the closest representations of a 1970’s spy film, since the 1970’s. If you still own, or ever owned, a Betamax VCR you might wish, for nostalgia sake only, that this movie was being released on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, Ultraviolet Digital Copy and Betamax (not VHS).

George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is a middle-aged, ex-intelligence expert forced into early retirement. He is called out of retirement to discover the identity of a mole in the “Circus”; code name for the upper echelon of SIS (Secret Intelligence Service). The movie crawls at a slow, but steady pace throughout. The dialogue is witty and concise. The screenplay and camera work fuse together, creating a synergy, which draws you into each scene with a deep sense of curiosity. Suddenly, the most outrageous dialogue spews from someone’s pie hole, rendering you helpless in your attempts to stave off laughter and focus on solving the mystery.

The caliber and quantity of talented actors in this film are simply superfluous. There are too many wonderful actors in this film to cram into this confined space of a review. George Smiley (Gary Oldman – The Fifth Element, The Dark Knight), Bill Haydon (Colin Firth – The King’s Speech), Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy – Inception, Warrior), Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong – Body of Lies, Sherlock Holmes). This doesn’t even scratch the surface of recognizable faces, especially if you watch a lot of period pieces. The entire cast and crew did a phenomenal job of making this film as true to life, during this period, as possible.

Swedish born Tomas Alfredson takes the helm on this book (1974), turned BBC mini-series (1979), turned art house flick (2011). Some of you might be familiar with Let The Right One In (2008), which was magnificent. Tomas has the unique ability to completely immerse himself in a film, thereby keeping it true to form. Regardless of the subject matter, Tomas delivers brilliant masterpieces time and time again.

While this movie is not going to appeal to the masses, it will certainly satisfy those anxious for a movie devoid of modern day computer trickery. That is not to say certain enhancements and other visual effects were not used. Obviously modern day advances came into play during post-production (e.g. computers vs. film splicers). The painstaking level of detail and devotion to the arts, with which these artists toyed, splashes across the canvas of today’s modern theaters. Simply put…it looks brilliant.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a high brow, slow paced, think piece. There are no heart pounding action sequences, no car chases, no explosions and basically no hint of anything beyond the 1970’s; film wise or otherwise. Quite frankly, you have to watch the movie very closely, the entire time, to ensure you do not miss anything. If you fancy an intricate film puzzle on the big screen, this movie is for you. If you’ve seen the movie already, please share your thoughts below. If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it…then come back and talk about it.


  • Micaela

    This review is generous and concise in almost every aspect. The caliber of actors and acting was phenomenal. However, the film was too slow for me and I lost myself in boredom. It is indeed an intricate puzzle and afterward I found myself saying “Damn! What did miss?” I guess I need another couple of degrees because that film went straight over my head. Perhaps I should read the book…

  • GradyM

    That is too funny; it was quite difficult to follow. If you are tired in the least,during the film, good luck staying awake. It does move at a very slow pace. This is another film where, had I not been given a press pass, it would not have been on my radar. So many good films are released in December, making it is so difficult to see them all. Thanks for the feedback Micaela.

  • Klaus Ming

    During the poorly attended screening which I attended at our local theatre here in St. John’s, NL – the three people in the audience under the age of 30 left by the lights of their cell phones about halfway through. Definitely not for the ADD crowd! 😉

    • Grady M

      The screening I attended was so full they turned people away. But, there were about 10-12 people that left before the 30 minute mark. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy definitely has a more narrow scope, with regard to its intended audience. Thanks for stopping by Klaus.