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Posts Tagged ‘Spies’

Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief

October 12, 2011 3 comments

They are, broadly, two different ways you can tell a story about spies; one involves gadgets, explosions, exotic locations and beautiful women. The other tends to involve paper work, surveillance, anonymous corridors and grumpy looking old men. We tend to be more familiar with the former, which is a pity, as the latter can be every bit as thrilling and exciting. Good spy thrillers mix action with paranoia to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the story.

The movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is two and half hours of grumpy old men being extremely paranoid at each other. As unappealing as that sounds, it’s very good. But then, of course it is, because each component of the movie, from the script to the direction is exactly right. The cast is brilliant; any film that sticks Toby Jones1, Gary Oldman and John Hurt in a room together would have to try pretty hard to fail, and Tinker Tailor does not disappoint. At the start of the movie, they spark of each other brilliantly and this sets the atmosphere for the rest of the feature. The rest of the cast are equally superb; Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect as the steadfast and brilliant Peter Guillam and Tom Hardy is equally superb as the heroic yet tragic Rikki Tarr.

 George Smiley (c)Working Title Films

Gary Oldman has been Sid Vicious, Dracula and now George Smiley. That makes a strange sort of sense, in many ways.

The sheer weight of talent on the screen is enough to carry the movie through. However, as it’s a clever adaption of a John le Carré directed by Tomas Alfredson2. The result is brilliant, and I firmly expect it to sweep up all the Oscars. Even the imaginary ones.

In essence, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a period piece about Cold War paranoia. This is a movie that is soaked in the fear and misery of the that time. The 70’s back-drop is drab and grim, nobody smiles and everyone is expecting the world to end in nuclear fire at any moment. Every element of the movie, from the direction to performances drips terror of an age we were all very happy to see the back of. This is not a spy-movie, this is movie about Intelligence agencies and the paranoia that surrounds them.

If tense, brilliantly directed, superbly acted dramas about paranoia, creeping despair and the spying game aren’t your thing, then avoid this. Otherwise, go see it if you haven’t all ready.


1: Yes, it’s another review about a movie with Toby Jones in it. What can I say, he’s probably one of the best actors around right now.
2: He directed Let the Right One In. Y’know, that brilliantly evocative vampire movie that was doing the rounds a couple of years ago? If you’ve missed it, seek it out.

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