TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Ever since I was a little kid, I had heard about “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” It’s a classic piece of British literature, but I was always too young to understand it when the original miniseries aired in the 80s. Now, watching the feature film, I wonder if I’m still a little too young to understand it. I’m definitely not British enough to understand it.
I’ve not read John le Carre’s original spy novels, and I don’t have a drop of British blood in me. I face the problems a lot of Americans did when this film hit the theaters… I just don’t have the working knowledge of British intelligence and government that is needed to fully understand the film.
Unlike the more famous James Bond spy films, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” offers an ultra-realistic view of the spy game. In this sense, it doesn’t make for much of an action movie because most of the spying that goes on involves people sitting in a room and listening to other people. It’s not about martinis shaken-not-stirred at the baccarat table in Monte Carlo. It’s about the boring-yet-often-dull work done by real spies.
The movie tells the story of a retired spy who is brought back in the game to root out a mole in British intelligence. Like the novel, it’s told out-of sequence, much in flashback and memories. It’s quite hard to follow at times, but those who are fans of the book shouldn’t have a problem at all.
There are some great elements to the film. The cast is superb, and the look and feel of the movie perfectly captures that of the 70s and realistically presents the art of espionage. It’s not a Bond or Bourne film in the least, and that is refreshing in many ways.
Though not perfect, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is a neat movie to watch… even if you don’t understand it all. The non-chronological novel narrative makes this just so difficult. So while I respect this movie, it’s not a particularly entertaining one.
The Blu-ray comes with a slate of interviews with actors Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy; author John le Carre; co-screenwriter Peter Straughan; and director Thomas Alfredson. There’s also some deleted scenes if the movie wasn’t long enough for you already. Finally, there’s the featurette “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: First Look” as well as BD-Live and pocketBLU access.