By Mike Smith
1973. During the height of the Cold War, an attempt to capture a Russian mole inside Britain’s MI6 organization. When the operation goes horribly wrong, the head of MI6, known as “C” (Hurt) announces his retirement. “What about Smiley,” he’s asked. “Smiley is leaving with me,” is the reply.
Based on the best selling novel by John le Carre’, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is a very faithful adaptation of the story. Filmed previously as a seven part mini-series that starred the great Alec Guiness as Smiley, the new version gives Oldman, one of film’s greatest chameleons, a rare starring role. And he certainly makes the most of it. Oldman has played a variety of characters from a rasta-style pimp to Lee Harvey Oswald and he has always managed to get inside the character and make them believable. The same here with George Smiley. His face almost hidden by oversized glasses, Smiley is the anti-James Bond. He is quiet and intellectual in his pursuits. The action here is spare. This is a thriller that you have to pay attention to. You will be rewarded for your efforts.
Director Alfredson, who created the original horror hit “Let the Right One In” proves that he doesn’t need vampires and blood to keep the audience on the edge of its seats. He keeps the story flowing smoothly, aided in part by an incredible supporting cast. Hurt. Firth. Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds. Every actor down to the smallest part has been properly cast. Special mention is due Mark Strong, who resembles a cross between fellow actors Stanley Tucci and Elias Koteas .