When people ask me how my reviews go from my head to the page, a criteria about how you have to back up something you claim the movie does, or doesn’t, always is addressed on my end. For instance, you can’t just say, “this movie is as painful as an enema;” you have to be able to explain why it is annoying as a tube going up your ass.
This is one of the rare times where yours truly just wants to say the following: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is extremely boring. It just is. Its 127 minutes of absolutely nothing happening for the most part. By the time this plodding script gets to something quasi-stimulating, it already lost you nearly an hour ago.
Spy conspiracies usually have some kick to them. Even the ones that are quiet and take their time will almost always have a jolt or two in them while they’re building toward the climax. Well, unless you’re last year’s The American that is. The only element about this flick is how it can give Nyquil a run for its money. Better yet, one will fall asleep faster watching this than getting put under by a dentist.
The plot isn’t all that unique from what we’ll call “administrative spy mysteries” (ones with seldom action and a lot of old-man conversations). A group of senior British intelligence agents (played by Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, David Denick and John Hurt) run the “Circus” during the Cold War Era. After an operation in Hungary involving agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) goes wrong, a former agent in George Smiley (Gary Oldman) comes out of retirement almost a year later to investigate why this occurred. His light research leads him to the conclusion that one of the senior agents is a possible mole for the Russians. As he speaks with other agents involved (played by Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kathy Burke) with that particular mission, he inches closer to who or whom may be leaking information to the Soviets.
Had the makings to be riveting and intense, but sadly, this flick never comes close to that. As the screenplay begins jumping back-n-forth depicting the time when the Hungary operation went south, to his present investigation, it becomes a chore to keep up with where we’re at regarding the story and characters. The goal is to portray a realistic account and avoid using all the gimmicks and flash found in the majority of spy-thrillers. And while that could make for an engrossing story – on paper – this is almost too thorough and intelligent for the cinematic screen.
This is essentially Gary Oldman walking around in a trench coat having chats with all the players above; some of which who get a minor backstory, while others are just used as place-holders. And while it is an admirable effort by Oldman leading this accomplished cast, only Tom Hardy provides a glimmer of life in the dialogue department.
The funny or ironic thing; a movie that fires off only a couple rounds is in fact an effective killer…in the entertainment department.
Overall, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy reveals nothing interesting or compelling to encourage anyone to seek this out. Unless you’re sleep deprived.
RATING: 2 out of 5