If critics rave about a film, there will still certainly be some folks who aren’t into it and the same goes for a movie that gets panned; every movie out there is going to appeal to some, even if it’s a very select few. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a rather frustrating film to review as it’s a piece of immense quality, boasting impeccable performances, a strong sense of tone and a stellar score, but, in the end, there’s just no denying that this simply isn’t a film for me.
In 1973, in the midst of the Cold War, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6 and code-named the Circus, is desperately trying to stay ahead of other nations via espionage. When the Circus’ top dog, Control (John Hurt), sends Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary and the mission goes horribly wrong, both Control and his #2, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), are forced out of the Circus.
Later on, after Control’s passing, Smiley is pulled back into the game in secrecy, asked to look into the government’s concern that a Soviet mole may have infiltrated the Circus. With the help of another agent, Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), as well as key information brought home by the long absent field agent, Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), Smiley strives to reveal the double agent who, thanks to Control, has been limited to just five options, Tinker – Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Taylor – Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Soldier – Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds), Poor Man – Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) and Smiley himself.
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