Monday, May 6, 2013

Film Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Review)
United Kingdom/2011
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

In the early 1970s, Control (John Hurt), the head of the British Intelligence, sends Jim Prideaux to Budapest in Hungary to retrieve the name of a mole that has infiltrated the British Intelligence - this undetected mole has been at the top for years. Unfortunately, Prideaux is shot and the mission is a failure. Consequently, Control and his right hand, Smiley (Gary Oldman), are forced to retire. Eventually, Smiley begins to investigate the mole as information resurfaces from Control and Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), an agent believed to have defected.

The story in this film is complicated and demanding. However, those that can stay on track will be greatly rewarded. The story starts off a bit rough and continues this way for some time; it really drops you right into the investigations, and characters quickly disappear with very little explanation; also, some espionage and region-specific terminology was difficult to comprehend. However, I was eventually able to grasp the big picture. Now, after the first 30 minutes, or so, the story begins to focus and smoothen out significantly. At this point, you can really focus on the suspenseful and immersive investigation, which is mostly done through interviews and flashbacks. It continues to build up its momentum and makes you ask many questions along the way. Who's the mole? What are the motives? The ending of the film is great and unexpected; the openness of the final scene leaves room for a sequel without leaving you hanging. The entire story really capture the paranoia and anxiety of the time period; paranoia being one of its main themes. Due to the rough start and a some complicated storytelling, you may need some clarification on the story or a second viewing.

The story implements some great suspense during some of its sequences; you'll gripping your seat during some realistic and tense scenes of espionage. Now, this isn't an action film by any means, it heavily relies on its dialogue; fortunately, the dialogue is authentic and captivating - creating tension through dialogue is an accomplishment on its own, and this film succeeds at that tenfold. The story is brilliantly and precisely written, aside from the first act; the dialogue specifically is magnificent, I can't praise it enough. The great script makes this film worth watching again and again.

The acting is outstanding from the entire cast. These are extremely impressive performances, way beyond my expectations. John Hurt plays Control, and, despite his limited screen time, manages to deliver an amazing performance as the paranoid head of the Circus and his dialogue is often told with such unbelievable force. Gary Oldman is equally impressive as Smiley; he's able to keep that natural expression and speak with equal conviction. Tom Hardy, whom also has limited screen time, delivers with his realistic performance. The music is wonderful, definitely captures the era and espionage genre with precision. The cinematography is great.

Overall, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a wonderful spy film. The writing/dialogue, acting, and the music are perfect; however, the story was occasionally too complicated, at least in my opinion. Maybe I'm more to blame than the film itself? If you're not an expert on the period and terminology, you'll likely lose yourself in the film once or twice, though. Regardless, the film is great and will only get better with repeated viewings.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some sex.

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