The movie is set in the early seventies, we follow the “Circus” division of MI6, when an agent remerges after what many believed was his defection, he has information claiming that a leading member of the Circus is a mole for the Soviet Union. George Smiley(Gary Oldman) an older agent that was pushed from the Circus after a botched mission, returns to find the mole. His old boss knew a Soviet spy was in the group and gave them each code names: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy.
This isn’t a spy movie that most audiences are used to, with Bond and Bourne leaping around and shooting people to the ground. This film is a very solid Cold War film. This movie is about information and weeding a mole out with real spy tactics. No jumping off roofs or giant explosions. Even though this film doesn’t have any of that, the tension is very high. Many should see this film just because I think people are starting to forget about the spy games against the Soviet Union.
This film was based off the book written by John Le Carre, it was adapted for the BBC and the character of George Smiley was played by the amazing Alec Guinness. So Gary Oldman had big shoes to fill and he really does a great job. The performance is a quiet one, Smiley is the anti-Bond/Bourne, he is older and not really charismatic. His marriage is falling apart as his wife has an affair with one of the men he is investigating. What is great about Oldman is that no matter what happens his character never really raises his voice.
The film is very adult, the pace is slow, that doesn’t mean it’s bad at all. The film feels very real, MI6 isn’t some glorious place, it’s a government building. Every moment of tension feels real. The film bounces between the mission and a flash back to a X-mas party before it was known about a mole in the group.
Now Oldman is great but other actors give very splendid performances. Mark Strong and Colin Firth deliver stand out performances. Tom Hardy plays Ricki Tarr the agent that connects a lot of the story. It’s crazy to think of the roles this man has been in this last year, you almost forget it’s him while watching the movie.
If you enjoy stories about the Cold War or simply enjoy well paced films you’ll enjoy yourself. If you’re expecting a shoot out type film or an action film with a high body count, you’ll be let down. For me the movie was a breath of fresh air. The performances alone are worth the ticket price.