Certificate 15, 127 minutes
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a Cold War espionage thriller based on John le Carré's book of the same name. George Smiley (Gary Oldman, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, RoboCop, The Dark Knight Rises) has been brought out of his forced retirement in order to find a spy right at the top of the organisation referred to in the film as the "Circus" which is the SIS, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (usually, and incorrectly, referred to as MI6). This "mole" (or double agent) has been spying for the Soviets for years and, with Smiley now an outsider and no longer working for the SIS, Smiley is the only man who can now be trusted as his retirement shows that he can't be the still active double agent.
Much of the film is spent with the major characters sat in various hotel rooms and offices, either discussing matters or going through paperwork. Smiley does not rush around trying to find the mole; instead he gathers information and carefully goes through it all looking for evidence of the mole and to set a trap to catch him. The mole works for the unseen Soviet spymaster "Karla" who Smiley met earlier in his career.
George Smiley is nothing like his more famous fictional colleague who works for the same agency, James Bond. He is quiet and mild-mannered, does not go around shooting people or engaging in hand to hand combat. He is a highly intelligent and thoughtful office-bound analyst and spymaster, not the jet-setting, bed-hopping international playboy with fast cars and expensive toys that Bond is. As such, he is a rather more realistic depiction of what a member of the intelligence services should be than Bond is - no spy should call attention to himself in the sort of manner that Bond does. Smiley is not even a field agent, but is a bureaucrat, although one who is very good at his job.
This does mean that if you are expecting an action thriller, you will most certainly be disappointed. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is much more slowly paced and it is definitely not an action film. There is far more talking than what little action there is, most of which involves Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). It is however an excellent Cold War espionage thriller, although it should be remembered that it is set in the early 70s and the world has changed since then, and maybe not for the better.