The MI5 isn’t all exotic locations, car chases and picking up hot chicks. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy shows us a more accurate representation of being a spy in the miserable grey Britain. Lots of walking, talking and old men make up a film which will enlighten, confuse and thrill. Explosions not included.
There is a mole in the MI5 and Gary Oldman as George Smiley has to uproot it. Talking to people, wandering through flashbacks and uncovering documents is the main meat of the films methods to lead us to the finale, and it is an engaging experience. It starts with little in the way of dialogue and creates some head scratching to where this is all going. It is beautifully grimy and directed despite the minimal movements on-screen and once the mystery gets moving, guesswork and involvement on who is up to no good happens. It can be a confusing venture as characters mix between first and last names for the cast and the pace may kill the general blockbuster movie goer, but for those who like to settle down and watch everything unravel at its own pace, this is a film of immense immersion. Gary Oldman can say nothing and you will still be in awe.
The flashbacks are one of the highlights in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, though occasionally the blend will be too subtle and create some confusion on whether we are looking at the past or present. We see a Christmas part for the MI5 which shows happier times in the agency, a lonely spy who becomes a teacher and befriends another lonely soul, and an incredible love story which connects with the rest like a perfect jigsaw puzzle; the tales are certainly a far cry from James Bonds adventures. The world is dark and full of two faces, a point the film likes to showcase often. The little stories working their way into the main plot work so well thanks to the incredible cast (Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy would be my choice highlights) and careful direction, only rarely does the film stumble on not making things clear enough for the viewer to follow the deep spy chase. A film for those who like to settle down and take everything in. We are not much different, you and I.