User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 346 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 64 out of 346

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  1. Dec 12, 2011
    1
    Just saw a screening of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Stunned to read that reviews are good. Wait until real people see this, and not reviewers who are afraid to call this like it is, one of the most confusing and convoluted movies I have ever seen. I was in a theater of industry members and the reaction could not have been more tepid. There was a Q&A afterwards and when asked if this was better than the Alec Guiness version the answer over and over was, NO! The direction and the editing is a jumbled mess. Timelines, story lines, characters, all muddled. Gary Oldman plays his part well, I lay this mess at the feet of the director and his editor. A final note, I absolutely adore spy movies, I devoured every book every written about the Cold War, this should have been right up my alley. VERDICT: Gutter Ball Expand
  2. Dec 13, 2011
    0
    The movie is totally incomprehensible, dull and uninvolving. It jumps forward and backward in time at random, and Gary Oldman does an Alec Guiness impression. I don't know what movie the critics saw, but this is a total snooze.
  3. Feb 13, 2012
    8
    Although hard to follow at times, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is a intense spy thriller; one that knows what a real spy does. I recommend this good film to the smart audiences.
  4. Dec 13, 2011
    5
    It's crazy, it's like the critics saw a different movie. While the film is technically done well, you don't care about any of the characters, just following the plot requires a degree in "covert operations," and it is beyond slow. If you're going to the movies to be engaged emotionally, this film is not for you.
  5. Jan 7, 2012
    0
    I have to chuckle sometimes at professional critics and their rave reviews. For the average moviegoer who is plunking down $10 for a ticket and another $13 or so for popcorn and a soda, it's all about the entertainment value. To this end, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy rates a solid zero with an exclamation point. It's much akin to having a book on tape acted out on screen. The words simply drone on. The characters are unsympathetic and the story is meandering. Honestly, towards the end, you're not even really sure if you are at the end of the movie or not. If you like spy thrillers, this isn't for you. The only thrills here are seeing the closing credits and grabbing a refill on your popcorn. Make sure you go to a theater with comfy high-back seats so you will be able to easily recline your weary head as this movie plods along. Yes, there's lots of words in the script and lots and lots of "acting moments" for Gary Oldman and Mr. Awards Bait, Colin Firth. But, for those of us looking for good old-fashioned movie magic, it's best to move along. There isn't anything to see here, folks. Nothing at all. I was impressed that there were lots of British folks in this film. They have impeccable enunciation. I stared at the ceiling of the theater a few times, too, that's how engrossing this bore-fest was. The couple beside me summed it up best when they said, 'What the heck did we just pay for?" as they left the theater. Ditto. Expand
  6. Dec 12, 2011
    5
    How can you compress a fascinating five hour story--I'm referring to the original BBC adaptation--into two plus hours and come up with a film that feels turgid? It may not be fair to compare this version to the superior BBC mini-series, but they seem to have gone out of their way to take the urgency out of their mole hunt. By only allowing us to see the mole candidates in brief cameos, we never feel grounded in the search. And that makes the ultimate revelation a "so-what." It became an elegantly photographed film comprised of a bunch of obtusely connected sequences with little to hold it together. As a Le Carre fan, I looked forward to seeing this, and I'm not saying it's terrible' but I went home feeling disappointed. Expand
  7. Dec 31, 2011
    0
    Incomprehensible, that says it all. Some reviewers commented about the jumbled timeline. Here's how bad it was: I couldn't tell when it was jumbled or not! And I'm someone who drank in Memento. My partner and I consider ourselves fairly intellectual and sophisticated movie-goers, we do not require cheap thrills, the straw-man that some of this movie's defenders put up. In the end, the mole is revealed, but WHO CARES?!?!?! The acting is good? Heck, I think lots of people can look grim grim grim. There seems to be a subset of fans out there who genuinely like this movie, but chances are very high that you are not in that teeny tiny group. I think it's probably a group of people who love any sort of cold war spy movie. If that's you, by all means, feed this turducken. Expand
  8. Dec 9, 2011
    10
    Tinker Tailor is one of the most planned out films I have seen in all my years. It is filled with subtle hints and images. It's a film that doesn't point things out, it crams the screen full of imagery and lets the viewer decide whats relevant just like Gary Oldman's George Smiley is. Its a film that marvels in the enigma that is Smiley and works best when you have no idea what he is thinking. It is one of the greatest thinking mans films. The performances are flawless with Oldman giving one of the best of his career and Colin Firth following up his Kings Speech role with something more in your face and exuberant that makes him stand out in a crowd of people known for secrets and lies. The cast is rounded out by some of the best British Thesps around from Toby Jones to Kathy Burke. The direction is so clever in the way it toys with the viewer. Its outstanding in every possible way, well worth a watch. Expand
  9. Jan 7, 2012
    2
    I just finished watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and I am stunned at how highly this film was rated by critics. I went into the film with no prior knowledge of its plot; I haven't read the book, nor have I seen any of its previous filmed versions. And after watching it, I still barely know what happens. It is almost laughably confusing. The editing of the film is disastrous. The fact that much of the film consists of flashbacks adds to the confusion. The film gives no visual clues to differentiate the past and the present. There are way too many characters to keep track of, and half of them are of no consequence to the plot. I also think the film should be subtitled for American viewers since most of the dialogue is spoken in such a thick British accent it is incomprehensible. And on top of all this, the film is incredibly dull and boring. The thinking for this film was "Let's take a whole bunch of big-name British actors... Colin Firth, Gary Oldman... write a confusing and boring screenplay and shoot the film in dull, greenish colors. The critics will eat it up." Well, the critics have apparently been duped into thinking Tinker Tailor is praiseworthy, but I found it about as entertaining and visually interesting as a bowl of split pea soup. Expand
  10. Jan 19, 2012
    1
    Bad. Do not go... My husband and I were totally misled by the critics reviews. We generally enjoy insightful and intelligent films; we do not need things to explode and to view a series of chase scenes to find a film rewarding. We were both tremendously disappointed in this film. It is slow, convoluted, and just down right boring. I kept watching waiting to see what the critics saw and did not understand the ratings whatsoever. Generally, if you see a film with high ratings you at least "get" why it was rated that way. Not this one! It is bad. Do not go. Expand
  11. Jan 14, 2012
    0
    It is quite obvious that this movie does not lend itself to middle ground reviews; most reviewers seem to either love it or hate it. I grew up with the books and movies of the cold war era, usually enjoy the subtle play with hints and clues, value character development at times when more often than not CGI takes center stage, and certainly have no problems with slower paced material. TTSS should have been a real treat but unfortunately it wasn't. Trying to apply some common sense here the movie under delivers in such a variety of ways that it beggars belief. The plot is confused and unintelligible and, worst of all, leaves you wondering after 20 minutes why anyone should care about anything anymore. There are scenes with no apparent link or connection to the storyline (George swimming; the boy with the blue spectacles). Taken, Gary Oldman's low key acting is strangely fascinating at first but that effect wears off quickly. The otherwise great cast is completely wasted; take Ciarán Hinds who has what, a combined 10 min? And expect no compensation for the boredom the director unleashes on its audience as the production value of this movie is at the lowest possible end. Lighting and sound are miserable, and the photography as grainy as a super-8 amateur film. If that was intended to somehow recreate the seventies look and feel, sorry, I don't buy it. Watching TTSS has been two hours of real torture, and I can't remember any other example where critics reviews and audience responses diverge so much. A real shame. Expand
  12. Feb 2, 2012
    0
    Quite possibly the worst movie ever made. Left the theater after an hour of utter crap. Anyone who claims to understand the garbage spewed throughout this movie was either an actual spy, or is most definitely lying. Just more arsty b.s. that the critics claim to be able to "get." Ooohhh....so compelling. Total crap.
  13. Jan 8, 2012
    1
    This is one huge disappointing film, from beginning to end. The British in their endless fascination in their own history have, thanks to a famous novelist, now have a film about a group of their own Cold War counterintelligence agents, who dislike and mistrust each other, find American counterintelligence a threat, and talk about finding worthy Russian counterintelligence. But all these agents, these people, do is talk quietly, sneer at each other, and so on. There are too many one-on-one scenes where the conversations are dull, often meaningless, since nothing appears to come of them. Maybe this is really the fodder of a stage play - a drama centered on one-on-one dialogue. This film got good reviews, bad box office, and now I understand the bad box office. But what about the film critics who liked this? Why are their views so frequently so different than those of us who pay big bucks to go to multiplexes? Expand
  14. Jan 7, 2012
    2
    While I wanted to like Tinker Tailor, this is a movie I just couldn't get into. For starters, the pace is astonishingly slow. There are scenes that are shown that seem to have no connection to the plot of the movie. The plot is more complex than it needed to be. My biggest problem with the movie though is the lack of anything memorable. The acting is good, the direction is great, and the music suits the movie, but nothing stands out that you will remember in 6 months. Not one scene will stick with you. The characters are not interesting or unique from each other. There may not have been one joke in the movie and there was not one scene that had emotion in it. The mystery through the movie doesn't deliver the payoff and I personally thought Dragon Tattoo had a much more interesting "whodunit" mystery in it's story. After 20 minutes, I started counting how many Harry Potter actors I could spot. I started thinking "There's Tom Hardy, he will do an awesome job in Dark Knight Rises", and "Oh ok so thats the new villain in Star Trek 2, he seems like he will do a good job". I guess the point I am making is that I simply didn't get it and I am saying that because there's a good chance you may not get it either. There may be a target audience for this film, and clearly the critics ate this movie up, but it disappointed for me and the four people I went with. Also, judging by the awkward and silent reaction of other people in the theater we weren't the only ones, despite the great actors and potential. Expand
  15. Jan 1, 2012
    6
    Amazing shots, acting and cinematography... but the story moves way way to slow i think for anyone. I would like to see the BBC adaption now - but they could have cut this better to make the pace more interesting - I don't think this was a miss on acting it was a missing on the editing floor.
  16. Jan 7, 2012
    2
    The two points I'm giving this film are for the acting. Unfortunately the great actors are a complete waste in this convoluted mess. I was tortured throughout this film, constantly looking at my watch wondering when it would end. I am stunned the critics are giving this film good reviews. jfa weiu a;fj pqeijua ak;ajf [ a;kdfj a j. If you understood that previous sentence then you will enjoy this film. As people left the theater all you could hear was "wow that was hard to follow", or "I didn't understand any of that movie". What is the point of making a movie so incredibly difficult to follow? It certainly isn't entertainment. I know the point of the film is they are trying to find out who the mole is, but how they found out I couldn't tell you, nor did I care. If I wasn't there with a friend I may have walked out on the film at the halfway point. I had some difficulty with the English accents at times as well which added to the confusion. Expand
  17. Feb 4, 2012
    0
    Are you kidding me? I sat thru the whole film wondering when I was going to "get" it. Did I miss something? The flash-backs helped some but there were huge holes in the story. I had never read the series so it is obvious that one needs to do that in order to figure out what is going on in the film. At times I was yawning...and I even had had a double espresso and chocolate before I went in! Even Roger Ebert thought it was confusing. Expand
  18. Jan 15, 2012
    2
    Before you see this movie, you need to ask yourself if you are an avid fan of the History channel. Because this Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy would be a great fit for the History channel, if the History channel was dull, boring, and uninspired. Tinker belongs as a feature movie in The Invention of Lying, which showed clips of this genre as spoofs to show how dry filmmaking would be without invention. Tinker has now soundly proven the point.

    I am not one who needs to be hit over the head to "get it". I like films that drops subtle clues. But Tinker's subtlety was lost on me, and I felt I needed to be hit over the head if only to put a merciful end to the two longest hours of my life. The film's greatest weakness was time discontinuity, back and forth, over and over, using the same actors, who were no younger as they went back in time. The viewer is forced to continually be looking for the time-sense of each scene, so there was little time, or desire, to sort out the intended puzzle. If you like puzzles, you may very well like this film, but I would advise, instead, that you spend your two hours poring over the 10,000 piece puzzle on your card table. You will have more fun and excitement!
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  19. Dec 18, 2011
    2
    I finally registered for an account to leave this review - I think that says something I consider myself and my significant other to be relatively intelligent, we read the new yorker regularly, been published in the new york times, graduated in the top 2% of my class... --> This movie is borderline incomprehensible to those who have not read the book. I appreciate the quality of the direction, production, etc. but my general view is that movies which are both based on an involved book and try to compress the story into 2 hours tend to come across as unintelligible to those who have not read the book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another example (I've never met anyone who hasn't read the book and enjoyed the film except for those individuals who were there solely to enjoy the CGI and would never have the patience to a read a book >200 pages). Expand
  20. Jan 7, 2012
    0
    This movie is impossible to follow. Half the theater erupted in boos at the end of the movie and i believe the other half just didn't want to waste another split second of their time thinking about this horrible movie. I will never trust a critically acclaimed film again. Perhaps if you've read this book and know everything about it prior to going to the movie it might be good but as a stand alone film it doesn't make sense. Expand
  21. Jan 18, 2012
    3
    The start of this movie had me excited at the prospect of a cleverly scripted, beautifully filmed remake of a BBC classic but once into it, the feeling of disappointment started to overwhelm me. With an all start cast, the film never really connects, and is disjointed on all levels. Acting masterclasses from Oldman and Hurt do nothing but leave you wondering why such an all star cast doesn't deliver. The characters are never developed enough for anyone to take interest in this messy remake. Two hours were never going to do this movie justice, and just what the critics were marking this on is beyond me. Great acting at times, cinematography is brilliant, editing leaves alot to be desired, confusing plot...definitely a movie for DVD. Sorry! Expand
  22. Jan 18, 2012
    0
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a movie that started with a good book and turned it into a convoluted, confusing movie not worth your time or money. The flashbacks are confusing. The attempt to make an arts movie only distracts from the story.
  23. BKM
    Mar 24, 2012
    4
    The cast is superb, the screenplay intelligent and the tone of the film is perfect. Yet you have to practically be a counter agent yourself in order to make any sense of the nearly incomprehensible plot and when you're on the outside looking in, the action is slowed down to a snail's pace.
  24. Apr 14, 2012
    0
    This movie is perfect example of why no one respects movie critics. This was one of the most boring movies I have ever watched in my entire life. I only rented it because it got an 85 on Metacritic, but I definitely am losing my trust in said critics. Why they insist giving high ratings to movies where NOTHING HAPPENS (this movie and A Serious Man, for example) is beyond me. I think they should get real jobs. Expand
  25. Jan 7, 2012
    4
    This big-screen adaptation of the le Carre novel is not like most modern spy flicks: There are no chases, fights or shocking twists. It revolves around an English spy organization in the 70s and the search for a Russian mole in the higher ranks. Gary Oldman heads the impressive cast as the man hired to find the culprit. The complex machinations are carried out methodically, which means very slowly. Much of what happens, suspicious glances, swiping folders and other dull dealings, is simply confusing (guess it helps to read the novel). When the truth is revealed, it's really no big surprise, making the movie even more of a letdown. Expand
  26. Jan 9, 2012
    9
    I really liked this movie. I can understand how some users say that the movie is "jumbled", "convoluted" or "confusing" but instead of taking that as a negative while I watched I was drawn in by the subtlety of what was shown as an observer to the events in the film. Do things really need to be explicitly explained at every turn in the movie for you to enjoy it? Do you not want to have to think at all while watching a movie? Is that what you'd call "entertainment"? Expand
  27. Dec 9, 2011
    10
    this came out in the uk around 5 months ago and is about as good a film you can get these days. great cast, great direction and exuding britishness. fantastic. the film is quite confusing however, but all the loose ends are wrapped up nicely. the cast are in some of their staring roles, maybe not benedict cumberbatch (sherlock) or gary oldman (the dark knight) buy certaintly other minor characters. very good, and quite shocking at times. may not suit an american audience however, so take heed. Expand
  28. Mar 2, 2012
    2
    Stinker, Failure, Loser, Die. Critics who mistake the withdrawn acting and glacial plotting for intelligence, class, realism and authenticity are pretentious **** This is one of the most dull and passionless films ever made. People like George Smiley and these awful spies may exist, but they are human vacuum cleaners, sucking up all the oxygen around them. Tomas Alfredson, who made the chilly Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In (much more original than this tosh) allows the frost to harden throughout this icy film. What a non-performance from Gary Oldman, who only 'ehts, dear boy' in a drunken scene with the flaming Benedict Cumberbatch, his hair all sprayed gold ('Will anyone think I'm gay?). Yet I am in a minority - the Brits have given this dross a 'Best British film' and Oldman has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. This speaks volumes for film critics who mistake this class ridden, awful, dense and dull type of film for one that is complex, adult, well acted, brilliantly written, etc. It isn't any of these good things. There is nobody to like in this film, no human to empathise with, no thrills or excitement, no great lines, no great message - just 127 minutes that unravel in front of your eyes. I give it 20% for the director (he makes what he can out of the dull script and the deliberate non-performances) and for the ending which sees Colin Firth as the bad guy, thank God. Did I say I didn't like it enough? Expand
  29. Jan 6, 2012
    0
    Worst movie ever! I agree the other intelligent people who reviewed it with a 0 or 1, I was bored to death and refuse to believe that the reviewers found this movie excellent. I too wonder if we saw the same movie
  30. Jan 7, 2012
    0
    What's that saying about smelling the monkey poop? The critics are living in their own little world. This movie is a mess...perhaps a technical marvel on many levels, but a bore to anyone with half a brain. Do not waste a dime on this terrible movie.
  31. Jan 10, 2012
    1
    A confusing shamble. If you took all the scenes from this movie, put them in a hat and pulled them out randomly, you would get the same movie. The only reason I give it a 1 was for the suspense that something interesting would happen and the shock that it didn't.
  32. Feb 12, 2012
    6
    If you are not good at finding subtle clues and putting them together fairly quickly, then you will find this movie a harrowing ordeal. I was personally confused for the first 30 minutes or so into the movie, but once I got settled, I started to put things together, although, not as fast as the movie requires if you truly want to figure out "who is it?" The last 30 minutes of the movie are the most remarkable; it truly is a wonderful denouement. That being said, you may still find yourself will many unanswered questions after the movie ends. The acting was great, but Gary Oldman stole the spotlight and made the movie bearable. His character radiates a calm inquisitiveness throughout the whole film. I was surprised at how good the score was in the film. It really gave a 70s feel to the film. The real gem of the movie, however, was the screenplay. Even though at times it was far too complex, the screenplay was filled with nuances that made the film what it is. This is not a Bond-esque spy thriller. Don't expect much action, and don't expect it the movie to go by quickly. Expand
  33. Feb 14, 2012
    1
    I learned a lesson (again) about the reviews of critics. Never again will I base my movie going decisions on them. . Did we watch the same movie? I think I fell asleep but I'm not quite sure. Why? For the moments I was awake, I was comatose. If you go to see this movie, bring a big cup of coffee with you.
  34. Jun 4, 2012
    10
    This is a work of genius. The subtlety screams on screen and it just delivers. And that cast! The best, and I mean the best British actors of each generation. Masterpiece!
  35. Dec 17, 2011
    8
    Terrific acting by the entire cast. The period was captured incredibly well and the story was engaging, if sometimes too fast / subtle. Recommended highly.
  36. Feb 12, 2012
    2
    It seems that this is another movie, like Sideways, where critics are a lot more enthusiastic than the general audience.

    The acting was very good. The cinematography was great, it captured the era extremely well. However the plot was so convoluted, and it dragged in so many places that I ended up hating the movie. If I had gone to the movie alone I would have walked out, and I don't
    recall wanting to do that in a movie ever before. Expand
  37. Mar 25, 2012
    10
    This film isn't for idiots. Those who seek a more shallow experience ought to take a look at Soul Plane. or perhaps Big Momma's House. The fact that the film might be incomprehensible might not be because of the film itself, but you. Stick to tired Hollywood blockbusters where everything is literally spelled out to you. Enough is said.
  38. Jan 16, 2012
    3
    I should have known what I was getting into. Years ago I attempted to read Le Carre's highly acclaimed novel and surrendered to it half way through; it was too complex for me. Character names were a mishmash, the chronology was all out of sorts, and I found myself feeling as if I were lost at sea. Perhaps it was above my head, meant for a more erudite crowd. Whether the fault lay on my end or Le Carre's, I didn't really care. I had too many good books waiting on my shelf to waste time on something that bored me to tears. A decade later, I opened up my newspaper and found myself reacquainted with TTSS; truth be told, I hadn't thought about it since I dejectedly returned my book to the library all those years ago. I was intrigued. The names tacked on the brilliantly designed full page ad looked like an Oscar party guest list and Thomas Alfredson's last film, Let the Right One In, a deliciously spooky vampire flick, indicated to me that someone at least halfway decent was sitting in the director's chair. Besides, movies aren't necessarily carbon copies of their source material. A muddled, confusing novel might find redemption on the big screen if handled properly. The basic premise of TTSS is extremely compelling: a mole has burrowed his way into the upper echelons of a British intelligence agency. Deceit. Treachery. Violence. A timeless, endlessly entertaining combination. I was suckered all over again. Why I thought the film would be any better than the book baffles me. It's got all the endless of "endlessly entertaining", and none of the entertainment. I sat through the entire movie but would have quit halfway through, as I did the book, were it not for my company. I didn't want to seem rude, as my date apparently loved it. Maybe she had a crush on Gary Oldman. Whatever her highly questionable motives might be, I don't really care, as I will not be asking her for a second date. This movie is boring and hopelessly complex- a disastrous combination. If something exciting happened every once and while, maybe a chair being knocked over or Gary Oldman actually showing some enthusiasm, anything, anything at all, I could forgive the convolution of the story. But they give us nothing. There are only two- count it- TWO shots fired in the entire (what seemed like) thirteen hour running time, and one of those comes in the last three minutes. A spy movie with only two gunshots? Unforgivable. For comparison, imagine if 99% of Saving Private Ryan consisted of Eisenhower and company planning out the D-Day invasion- drawing maps, calculating logistics, playing with action figures, wiping their arses, and in the last two minutes, we see Tom Hanks and his squad approach Omaha Beach and vaporize in front of our eyes when an artillery shell bullseyes their LVT. The end. That's TTSS in a nutshell for ya. I found myself lost at sea yet again. At the end of the movie, I still didn't know any of the character's motivations, let alone half of their names, who the villain was, or why anything happened to anybody. It's almost as if we were dropped into the film midway without so much as an introduction, and expected to follow along. I felt like it was my first day at work at a job I was hopelessly under-qualified for. At thirty minutes, I was checking my watch. At an hour and a half I was nearly comatose. Had the movie stretched past two and a half hours, I would have left the theater in a body bag. The three was only awarded because the film was technically superb. The acting was, as expected, superb and the setting- dreary, gray, and perpetually damp 1960's England- was fittingly depressing and moody. If this was trimmed down to four minutes and set to a gloomy Radiohead song about the Cold War, it would have been the best damn music video ever made. Unfortunately, it's a movie, and movies actually require some semblance of a story to entertain most people. Damn shame. Expand
  39. Apr 14, 2012
    2
    I saw a SAG screening of this that was followed by a Q&A with one of its stars. Amazingly, despite his presence in the theater, a lot of people couldn't sit through the entirety of the film. The guy sitting next to me was with his girlfriend, and opted to leave and meet up with her afterwards. And these are all working actors who appreciate a good performance even if its attached to a bad script. The movie is really difficult to follow and the characters are very hard to develop an attachment to. This is probably because the movie is an overstuffed adaptation of a much larger work. They tried to fit in too many story lines and to attach too many big name actors. The end effect is that the movie lacks the most important and basic ingredient to a successful feature: a likeable protagonist who we can root for in an understandable goal. It doesn't help that Gary Oldman chose to play Smiley, who would most likely serve as our protagonist, without any emotional reaction to the things he experiences. Another case of no single critic wanting to go out on a ledge against a great cast and director. So they all fall in line to praise a very bad piece of work that no one will remember at all in ten years. Expand
  40. Feb 14, 2012
    0
    After so many others reviews on here already, I will keep mine short - Actually 1 word = RUBBISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  41. Dec 31, 2011
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Sadly, the movie feels more like looking out the window during a boring bus ride than as a mental roller-coaster. Which is a shame, as the cast plays wonderfully well and the cinematography and atmosphere are fantastic.

    I'm a big fan of movies like The Usual Suspects, thus I was expecting a whole lot from Tinker Tailor. I came out disappointed. The cinematography is superb, acting is very, very good and the atmosphere of bleek, tense spy-life is wonderful. But the pacing is incredibly slow and it's near impossible for (even for the mos intelligent of us) to really engage with the story: it feels like watching people you don't know do things you don't care about. I was also disappointed by the 'thriller' aspect: there really is almost no suspense apart from a few moments. Even as the story unravels, really big things 'click', I felt distant. It's possible to connect the dots and subtle (often visual) clues after you've seen the movie, but it never feels cool. In some of the great psychological thrillers, it's awesome to wacht it the second time knowing someone is lying, pretending to be something, that the protagonists are lead onto a wrong track. Nothing of that kind here. It's more of the type - "Ahh, those two shared a look then because they collaborated together".

    It's all very surprising to me, especially as more or less the entire cast acts very, very well. Oldman is sublime, again transformed into a totally different person, with suble facial expressions, gestures - you can often see him think. Same goes for Firth, Cumberbatch, the whole lot - the only trouble is that there are so many important characters, it's hard for the movie to create much of a depth for them. Most are just set there, without much explanation. You sense there is a story behind all of them (after all, it's a huge book), you just don't get it.

    In the end, there feeling is eerily similar to Harry Potter 8 part 1: Characters just going from place to place, off to find this or that which will then allow them to go off and find this or that. The goal of the movie is to find the mole, Mr.Smiley is quickly identified as the hero of the story and it's more or less inevitable that he will find him. One leaves the cinema wondering whether it was all worth watching at all.
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  42. Jan 6, 2012
    9
    I am brand new to Metacritic, having joined this site in order to submit my review of the movie, which I saw last night and is still in my head.

    Although this movie is slow to pull you in, once it does, you're hooked. For me, I didn't realize how much I really enjoyed the film until the very end, when things finally came together and the "can you get ON with it" feeling I had during
    the first 15-20 minutes of the movie had passed. Now, I keep thinking about how much I want to see it again. Usually I see a film once and that is it. This film is subtle, and I know that seeing it again will reveal more to me than I realized the first time around.


    The performances were excellent all around. Everyone is crowing about Gary Oldman, with good reason, but for me, Mark Strong had the best performance of the film, followed closely by Benedict Cumberbatch. Not a weak link in the chain, though. I don't know if this movie will do well in the U.S. at the box office. Frankly, you have to be intelligent and really pay attention to the movie. As I left the theater last night, I heard some people saying how much they loved it, and then I heard a few ladies saying that it was too long and convoluted. These were the same ladies before the movie started that were asking me what a mole was, and if people in the movie were going to speak with British accents. The sets were superb--drab, draber, and drabest. Flawlessly realistic. I hope that there's an Oscar nomination for the movie here, as well as the one anticipated for Gary Oldman.

    I knew absolutely nothing about the book or the Alec Guinness version, but intelligence, patience and attention here are all anyone needs. I wouldn't recommend taking someone to see this movie who thinks that Michael Bay films are their gold standard.
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  43. Apr 6, 2012
    7
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a very smart movie; it has tangled plot, characters and dialogues. And this mode is used because of the topic that this film treats: the world of the intelligence investigation where nothing is known but everyone knows something, where you always must look over your shoulder and where the contacts you have are worth more than yourself.
    Although Tinker Tailor is
    a little bit slow and hard to follow, the form in which the plot is developed makes you doubt about every character and every event, so you cannot take the side of one person, because you do not know if he is the mole; and you cannot be sure if a situation that happen was real or was a staging.
    This movie will amaze you as it reaches its climax, and that is a point for the director, however the applauses should be for Gary Oldman, whose performance is astonishing. The cast is also very interesting, highlighting John Hurt and Colin Firth. The title of the picture is very well achieved because those are code names.
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  44. Mar 24, 2012
    0
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is so messed up in so many ways. Gary oldman was terrible. the movie's pace is slower than a slug. boring isn't enough to describe how creative the film was. i haven't fallen asleep in a film in more than 6 years. this movie barely escaped from being added to the list.
  45. Jun 4, 2012
    3
    This movie should have been fantastic. Good or great actors everywhere, doing a good job with what they have... the material is there... I was so excited for this but it's just not put together in any way that is remotely interesting. Yes, I get that I'm supposed to be in the dark with the plot - surprises will come in a spy thriller, but you can't make me watch an entire movie of mopey, sad, slow moving people awash in a world of gray, devoid of any fun, thrills, or excitement. It's just to down, too depressed to be enjoyable. Expand
  46. Feb 6, 2012
    0
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Tin-Tin or whatever the movie is called clearly delivers the message that this is Tomas Alfredson's love letter to the $5 DVD bargain bin.
  47. Jan 9, 2012
    5
    I have seldom been to a spy film that that no intrigue or suspense until now. The plot is set up in the first five minutes and then Oldman figures it out bu magic I guess. Seriously, there is nothing that explains the sequence of events and how he determines the villain. A spy film with out any spying. Fascinating but really boring.
  48. Jan 23, 2012
    9
    Astounding. Period drama with real teeth and depth. Oldman, Cumberbatch, Strong and Toby Jones are wonderful. Disappointed with Firth for first time in ages. Upstaged in TTSS by stronger actors. If you like slow-burning spy dramas - akin to The Good Shepherd - then this will be right up your street.
  49. Dec 21, 2011
    9
    This film is one of the best of the year! It is not for the common viewer who just wants cheep thrills. The film builds suspense not with senseless action but with an engaging story that you are attempting to figure out what is going on. The viewer like the protagonist is left to figure out these random events that are happening. Tomas Alfredson's direction is flawless evoking a feeling of mystery and really setting a tone that keeps you engaged throught the whole movie. For the users that did not enjoy this movie they probably to dumb to figure out what was even going on in the movie. The dialogue in this film is very subtle so many viewers will find this film hard to understand. Expand
  50. Jan 15, 2012
    9
    This movie is not for everyone and if you don't enjoy the movie, please do yourself a favor and don't try to read the book. I read most of John LeCarre's books when they came out a generation ago and this one was a tough read even back then.

    Spy stories without near non-stop action are not a very popular film genre. This one has British accents to boot and a very complicated plot so be
    prepared to concentrate on every scene and and every conversation. Having said all that, I loved this movie and the cast which contains every great English character actor working today.

    At times, it may seem slow in plot development but in the end everything comes together and quite frankly, I can't wait for the DVD to come out so I can go back and forth to scenes with the "closed captions" on.

    Gary Oldman is terrific as George Smiley, master spy, who finds himself forced into retirement because of a botched mission in Hungary. He's brought back for the sole purpose of finding a "mole" in MI-6, who may have compromised that mission. The "back stories" of the possible suspects (nicknamed "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") is partially told in flash back and in scenes that don't seem important at the time. Pay particular attention to Smiley's glasses since they tell you when the scene is a flashback.

    The ending may be a shock if you haven't been paying attention to the relationship between the characters so either stay on your toes watching this one or find something a little easier on the the brain to watch.
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  51. Jan 8, 2012
    5
    Tinker, Taylor makes no effort to help you understand the story and I think this is a technique some movies use to fool you into thinking the story you're seeing is more interesting than it actually is -- as you struggle to follow what's happening you are engaged, which is not the same as stimulated. There are things to like about this movie and most of them are aesthetic but the energy is constantly drab and Oldman's performance, in particular, is so understated it seems showy. This is a good flick but the pre-release buzz was overblown. Tinker, Taylor, Over, Hype. Expand
  52. Feb 27, 2012
    6
    TTSS is a pretty good film, I loved the subtlety & atmosphere of the it and really did want to like it more. Gary Olman's Smiley is an interesting fellow and honestly a tricky lead to follow as he gives absolutely nothing away, even towards the ends , I found myself hanging off every nuance to try interpret his discoveries. The flashbacks were the problem for me as there was no distinguishing between the current day and past, it all felt the same! To be fair, this movie have its problems, but is still an incredibly well produced movie, with lots of atmosphere. If only they'd given us a little bit more to work with!! Expand
  53. Jan 6, 2012
    7
    It starts slowly and never builds beyond a simmer. It's well crafted but passionless, as is most of Le Carre's stuff, but the plotting is superb as it slowly reveals it's ending. Unfortunately it's a good guess who the villain is. Just ask the perennial give away question: "why is he in this movie?"

    The problem is that so far from the cold war and so far from MI-6's dusty halls the
    movie comes across as a period piece, a nice slice of memorabilia. Expand
  54. Lyn
    Jan 9, 2012
    8
    A little short on thrills to be called a "spy thriller," but a well-done and atmospheric tale -- dark, mysterious and mordant. I would have liked a bit more detail & insight on the men suspected as moles. As it is, there's kind of a ho-hum reaction when the villain is revealed.
  55. Jan 6, 2012
    10
    Everyone is right and wrong about this film. Geez. I don't remember the 'original' being so bloody violent. Well done stuff. I just had a difficult job hearing some words from time to time. My bad hearing. But, that damn broken up PBS series just killed it. I went and read the book later on and got into how David Cornwell writes and he's a genious in his own way. This film of the story was a smackin' great visit, even though I had to guess and wonder and follow along, all over again. [Great bit that, right?] Expand
  56. Jan 28, 2012
    8
    good spy movie.....but it was way to slow. i dont usually mind slow movies, but i felt that this film failed to establish suspense. There were a few moments but i really didnt care who the spy was and more importantly i didnt suspect any of the guys of being a spy (i never felt that the spy was one guy of the other). all in all its was a good movie, good acting and all that, i liked the editing (how they just cut alot of the "in between" shots). i wouldn't recommend this to everyone, mainly because it was just really slow. 86-89%. Expand
  57. Jan 10, 2012
    10
    This was a truly great spy thriller. It was so engaging and believable it could have been a leaked account of the real travails of intelligence agencies during the cold war. The grainy style of filming and muted colors helped transport us to the early 70's adding to that believability. Expecting to be tested by all the plot twists I suppose I was more tuned in then usual but, if you couldn't follow it you weren't paying attention. If tripe like Angelina Jolie's "Salt" is your idea of a spy thriller you'll hate this film. If on the other hand you enjoy an intelligent and gripping and utterly believable spy thriller this is a must see for you. Expand
  58. Mar 10, 2012
    8
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a multilayered cold war spy drama, with amazingly atmospheric cinematography, brilliant cast and accordingly accomplished performances (including but not restricted to Academy nominated Oldman) and based on John le Carré's beloved 1974 spy novel. It might have a slow pace, but art needs to be given the time to appreciate it.
  59. Jan 19, 2012
    6
    Although I liked the film, I had hoped and expected to like it a lot more. The story is hard to adapt to a two-hour film. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and not enough time to get to know them all. I could not always understand the dialog. Although I didn't have much trouble with the backwards and forwards jumps in time, others in the group who saw it with me found them confusing. The mole's motivation could have been stronger.

    So why did I like it? I thought the performances were outstanding and the story, despite my not understanding every detail, was interesting. I have sometimes complained that a movie has gone too far in spelling out every detail; this is certainly NOT one of those movies.
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  60. Mar 1, 2012
    2
    Maybe it was my fault, but I understand nothing, absolutely nothing of this movie, and when finished left with a big question mark in my head. I had hopes it was a great movie but I ended up totally disappointed.
  61. Apr 1, 2012
    10
    Do you know what happened on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? I don't know either. But this movie has great score, dazzling cinematography, well-direction, **** script, solid acting - each frame well say it's quality.
  62. Feb 12, 2012
    10
    This film was just made for Gary Oldman. From the very moment Smiley (Oldman) appears on screen you just knew he was going to take centre stage. Given the fact he doesn't actually utter a word for the opening 15 minutes of the film, his performance is still sensational, he himself does the talking. In 1973, Control (head of British Intelligence, The Circus, sends agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to meet a Hungarian general who wishes to sell information, however the operation is blown, Prideaux shot. Amid the international incident Control and Smiley are forced into retirement. Soon after, Smiley is brought out of retirement to investigate a claim made by an agent that there is a mole deep in the British Intelligence. As Smiley puts his team together it soon becomes apparent that agent Ricki Tarr's claims are true and he can trust nobody. He also discovers the real reason as to why Control had sent Jim Prideaux to Hungary; to learn who the mole was. Control had codenamed each suspect: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Poorman and Beggerman (Smiley!) The beauty of this film is the fact that it depends upon the acting. Its such a subtle and delicate film and you really sense the atmospheric setting of 1970's Cold War British espionage. That being said, this film requires the utmost attention because every detail is important as it jumps back and forth from time-to-time all the while becoming an utterly absorbing watch as Britain's finest excel in what turns out to be a beautifully executed film by Tomas Alfredson who slowly but surely pieces together the jigsaw with sublime skill resulting in one of the films of the year. Whilst Gary Oldman is genius as Smiley, mentions have to be made of what is a stellar supporting cast including Tom Hardy, Benidict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Mark Strong and Colin Firth. An utterly rich, absorbing execution of espionage delivering a masterstroke in detail and a truly fantastic film. Expand
  63. Feb 22, 2012
    10
    Films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy don't come along very often. Films that are this intelligent, lovingly crafted and unafraid to take their time are a rarity in modern cinema, so, oddly enough, Tinker Tailor feels like a breath of fresh air, despite its 1970s setting, cold grey sets and tweed. Director Tomas Alfredson proved his talent for building tension and creating a chilly atmosphere in his last feature, Let the Right One In, and this talent he puts to good use in maintaining the suspense of the plot and providing the right insular, secretive, emotionless feel to the world of Cold War espionage. The cast are exceptional, with Gary Oldman delivering the performance of his career as retired spy George Smiley - he doesn't say much, but doesn't really need to when he's got the art of communicating through sitting perfectly still and subtly altering his facial expression down to such a fine art. Others in the film's huge ensemble cast all have their moments to impress over the course of the film, but the of particular note are Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Hurt (the latter of which was once considered to play Smiley, but is much better suited as the cantankerous Control). Though it's undeniably an exceptional spy film, where Tinker Tailor really hits the mark is as a commentary on the futility of war. Every character is on edge as the investigation to find the Soviet mole within the British secret service progresses - the paranoia of the Cold War and threat of an enemy gaining the upper hand is perfectly communicated through the film's in-depth characterisation, with every member of "The Circus" looking as through they're rotting from the inside out. This constant sense of unease is heightened by Alfredson's direction - you're kept at arms length from all of the characters we follow, and we never really get to know anybody. We just look on, helpless, at once-powerful men who sit slowly crumbling in bleak, cold offices and dingy hotel rooms. In a lesser film, denying the viewer to really get inside character's heads would be a drawback, but not so here. We are given just enough information to make our own judgements about what may be going through the heads of this group of decrepit spies, but not quite enough to plot the exact course the film will take. Smiley is always one step ahead of the viewer in his investigations, and marveling at the way his mind works when all the pieces of the puzzle finally slot into place is part of the fun. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is expertly directed, designed and filmed, and has the fiendishly clever plot and script adapted from John le Carre's novel and sturdy, complex performances from the whole cast to make it the complete package. You don't get movies like this anymore, and that's a damn shame. Take note British film industry - this is what film perfection looks like! Expand
  64. Jan 6, 2012
    9
    Although it does start off slow, it begins to pick up the pace as the plot moves along. A great looking film with great acting, as good as I thought it would be. I recommend paying close attention otherwise you might miss something important.
  65. Jan 11, 2012
    8
    This movie was really good. I didn't know what was going on at times though due to me not reading the book, but as long as you can concentrate and focus on a movie well, then you won't have a problem. I took my brother to see it because he read the book and loved it and according to him the movie was just like the book, except for a few minor differences, but i liked it aand i didn't read it. The acting all around in this movie was absolutely perfect. Award deserving performances all around. Tom Hardy is going to be the next superstar actor. He's dishing out many all star performances now, from inception, to warrior, to tinker tailor now, and i know he will be amazing in batman playing as Bane. Anyways, this movie was very good, whether you read the book or didn't like me, as long as you can keep up with a movie with a very welldone but detailed plot then you should definitely see this, it's very good, we'll most assuredly see a sighting of this movie at the oscars this year. 8/10 Expand
  66. Jan 7, 2012
    4
    I really wanted to love this film, since I heard it might be nominated for best picture. The film's story is too jumbled and either assumes or does a poor job of explaining important elements or themes such as Control, Circus, and Wichcraft. I had to query wikipedia to read the summary of the film to understand what I had just viewed and said elements. I never read the book; I came in with a blank slate to this film. And I feel, perhaps, this film was best catered to those who are of British citizenry or read the book, or those who enjoy watching a film multiple times to understand the plot. It felt like it was the archetypical art film, something like you'd see at a museum or art gallery, where you don't quite understand it but you must appreciate it because it's highly well-regarded by others with higher IQ's than your own. To steal a British term, I think that's pure rubbish. I enjoy watching ballet, Opera, international travel, and thought-provoking films as much as the next person. I reside in New York and consider myself a New Yorker, but I am a European, as well. I say that because the reaction from those who immensely enjoyed this film shouldn't be "it's because you're not intelligent" or "it's because you're an ignorant American". Having said all that, I don't think the film was poor. I feel the acting, seriousness, and realism of the movie played well and I do feel I was watching something special. But I feel the film would have benefited from some much-needed explanations. Most of the audience was baffled. I got a top-down understanding of the film, but I wanted an deep intimate experience. Expand
  67. Jan 7, 2012
    7
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a very slow burning spy thriller. Its slow pace may bore some, but I think it was an effective way of composing this elaborate plot and allotting the broad cast a fair amount of screen time. With that said, good job to the writers and editors. Its lack of kinetic thrills was a disappointment, but its labyrinth of a plot is enough to keep most people intrigued. Gary Oldman leads the cast with an understated and complete performance, and the textured cinematography and art direction also deserve a mention. I felt certain plot-lines were ultimately unnecessary, but Le Carre should be pleased with the adaptation. Expand
  68. Dec 12, 2011
    10
    It is rare that two contrasting masterpieces are made from the same source. That has, however, happened with Tinker, Tailor. This insidious, ugly-beautiful picture can stand proudly beside the classic BBC TV series. The plotting is layered. The photography is cunning. And it has one of the great last scenes. Superb.
  69. Jan 5, 2012
    10
    This movie has beautiful cinematography, and it excels in confusing the viewer to the degree where you are caught up in the same confusion as the characters in the movie experience when chasing the proposed mole. I don't think it's confusing enough to make you want to let go of the movie entirely, I would say that it rather creates an immersion for the viewer that is required in order for this movie _not_ to feel boring.

    This is a movie that doesn't say it all straight out, and like any good literature or screenplay it leaves the interpretation up to the viewer. If that's your cup of tea, this movie is for you.
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  70. j30
    Apr 29, 2012
    7
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has some riveting moments and some dull moments, but the performance from Gary Oldman is unforgettable.
  71. Feb 21, 2012
    8
    A good watch, and worth it even if you haven't seen the original or read the book as I had not. It's a subtle thriller, and unlike the other spy films like the Bourne trilogy or Bonds (not that they're not great either). The cast is an endless list of the who's who of British film, all of whom give a amazing performance. All the reviews that say the film is incomprehensible, is rubbish and their writers must be morons, as for me the story pulled me in straight away and I wasn't lost at any point. Expand
  72. Jan 26, 2012
    9
    I have never read the book but after seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy my mind went all confused . Its was an deep minded brilliant movie. The whole movie had a very different kind of tone and which is very rear. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a spy film and by Spy film most people would think of James Bond of Mission Impossible which are just a movie and impossible to compare with real life But on the other hand Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is so realistic and it was damn realistic . Screenplay was absolutely amazing . Bridget O'Connor (Respect) & Peter Straughan did an amazing work . It was really hard o figure out whats happening wan what about happen which is a great example of a great film. Tomas Alfredson did awesome jod and the cast were so amazing . This was definitely Gary's best work. also Colin , Tom , Mark , Ciarán , Toby , Benedict & John did the best work of their supporting acting.Original score was good and was perfect for each scene . Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is undoubtedly 2011's top films. Expand
  73. Dec 25, 2011
    9
    Excellent movie, espionage kind of film at his best. Great written, the whole time I was trying to figure it out who was the mole, and it keep me so excited throw out the film, so the whole theme of the movie was amazing and interesting. Gary Oldman deserves an Oscar nomination, and the technical achievements good lord, they were fantastic. It may have been a little bit slow at beginning, but they were just explaining the way that turns would turn out to be.So for me this is on the top 10 movies of 2011. Expand
  74. Oct 14, 2012
    4
    While this movie had strong acting, and was beautifully directed, and the storyline could have been extremely compelling, and the movie overall could have had quite a strong impact with all of the components it had, but the way it was handled in the script was atrocious. It was completely unnecessary to have the story out of order. Someone said you have to figure out what scene is where by Gary Oldman's glasses. How are we supposed to figure that out? All it did was make it more confusing, giving the impression that it was actually more intelligent than it was. If there was something they figured out that was contrary to what they thought in another scene, you wouldn't know if the first piece of information was correct, or the second, because you wouldn't know what the real order of the story is. It's not like Pulp Fiction, Memento, or Blue Valentine, where it's out of order, but you can still follow it, or that there's actually some structure or method to it being out of order. This is just random. Not to mention, in those movies, the order they were in added something to the movie. This couldn't have added anything at all, except for confusion. You have to watch it a couple of times and piece it together yourself. If you confuse the audience, it hinders the emotional impact the viewer could have had, should they have understood the story the first time. By the third view, they might understand the story in order to be emotionally effected by it, but by then they already have seen the emotional moments, and they know they're coming. It's a complete waste of a solid storyline, strong directing, and powerful acting. I hope if you see it, and you are confused, as you will be, you don't try to walk out of the theater claiming how brilliant it was, because you really won't know, since you won't really know the story. Maybe after you've seen it enough times to piece it together, so that you can actually understand what the story is, then you can say that. If they did it in order, then the story would've been just as strong, but possible to understand, and therefore it would've had the initial impact it could have had. Expand
  75. Jul 24, 2012
    8
    Does everything have to be in your face all the time? I get how people assume that a film is bad if it's too complicated, but don't people ever notice the subtleties within films? It's understandable if it's a completely complicated mess of sorts that doesn't fit together properly, but if people miss the connections because they wanted a smooth, straightforward spy thriller, then, I'm sorry, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Sure, because this is to do with multiple aspects within the Cold War, I and perhaps many other people found it difficult to get on the right foot at the beginning, but still, I found it entertaining. Sometimes, I thought there were too many characters. Maybe perhaps I may have missed something and brought this upon myself, probably due to the fact that I had a focus on the talent of certain distinguished actors - my moderate expectations considering this. My favourite part was the awkward yet cute chemistry that played between Oldman's and Cumberbatch's character, which I found particularly fascinating. But I couldn't blame myself if I missed something. I still managed to see some of my favourite actors and gain a certain understanding. Sure, you wouldn't be able to gain a complete understanding of it at first viewing, but that's quite often a good thing, because you know you'll be able to watch it again. There is a difference between complicated and complicated and clever, because to me, connections and references are important in a film like this, instead of a muddled, struggling mess. Expand
  76. Jan 9, 2012
    10
    Fantastic. This film is not for everyone- I understand that. It took me two watches to fully understand everything (damn english names) but the cinematography was beautiful and the cast was brillant. I wou ld not recomend for the casual viewer but for someone who wants to be mind F@cked
  77. Jan 8, 2012
    5
    This is the kind of movie that you wish you could bring a pen and note pad to. You have to actively participate in it, trying as hard as you can to remember details that, in any other movie, would be second nature to you by its completion. It's a bit fitting that a movie based on double crossing and secrecy moves around so quickly and without warning that it becomes difficult to straighten out. You fly from location to location, back and forth in time so rapidly and without indication (aside from the color of Oldman's glasses) its as if the movie is trying to throw you off it's tail. All of the tension and buildup that this movie does fairly well leads to the most anticlimactic conclusion that I can remember.

    The only reason I gave it a 5 is because I wanted it to be SO much better, and I can't help but feel like after watching it a second time through I'd be able to appreciate it much more.
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  78. Feb 8, 2012
    10
    Tinker Tailor is one of the most planned out films I have seen in all my years. It is filled with subtle hints and images. It's a film that doesn't point things out, it crams the screen full of imagery and lets the viewer decide whats relevant just like Gary Oldman's George Smiley is. Its a film that marvels in the enigma that is Smiley and works best when you have no idea what he is thinking. It is one of the greatest thinking mans films. The performances are flawless with Oldman giving one of the best of his career and Colin Firth following up his Kings Speech role with something more in your face and exuberant that makes him stand out in a crowd of people known for secrets and lies. The cast is rounded out by some of the best British Thesps around from Toby Jones to Kathy Burke. The direction is so clever in the way it toys with the viewer. Its outstanding in every possible way, well worth a watch. Expand
  79. Jan 28, 2012
    4
    i admire the 70s looking film and ambience and music...but in the age of the BOURNE supremecy, this is flat out SLOW....slow slow slow slow slow slow slow
  80. Dec 31, 2011
    10
    Forty-six year old Swedish director Tomas Alfredson came to prominence three years ago when he directed the film adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel 'Let The Right One In'. After the initial success of the vampiric romantic drama, Alfredson became attached to an international adaptation of John le Carre's espionage-novel 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'. Based on aspects of le Carre's (also known as David Cornwell) experiences during his time as a member of the British Intelligence service sectors MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 1960s, Alfredson creates a fine, absorbing picture which engrosses from beginning to end.

    Control (John Hurt), the leader of an unknown sector of the British Intelligence service, is ousted along with his long-standing companion George Smiley (Gary Oldman) due to a botched operation in Budapest, Hungary which saw the officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) murdered in public. Control was under the impression that there was a mole among the top ranking members of the service, referred to as the Circus by the other top ranking members due to its location in Cambridge Circus, London, and Smiley is drawn out of retirement to pinpoint the culprit after Control passes away. Alongside the young Intelligence officer Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley has four primary candidates to focus his investigation upon; they are the last remaining members of the Circus, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik).

    Utilizing an all-star, established cast, Alfredson allows the film to unfold at an almost flawless pace. Every sequence contains a small snippet of information which allows the viewer to conduct their own investigation alongside that of Smiley's. While the narrative is also driven along by strong performances from the primarily male cast, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Stephen Graham and Kathy Burke all give strong, commanding performances. While the true artists of the piece are Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the young, and somewhat naive intelligent officer assigned to assist Smiley. John Hurt as the aging, instinct-driven leader of the British service, and Tom Hardy, who is Ricki Tarr the dirty cleaner for British intelligence's most fowl operations. Their performances go above and beyond in their supporting roles, and at times eclipse Gary Oldman's subdued portrayal of a man drawn back into the murky world of corruption, betrayal and treasure.

    Alongside the narrative and its cast, one of the more surprising aspects of the film, is Alfredson, Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and Editor Dino Jonsater's use of stylistic nuances that further enhance the viewing experience. Lingering close-up shots of seemingly insignificant objects and shallow focus shots constantly evoke the nature of mystery and intrigue which surrounds such clandestine organisations. Alfredson never rushes any moment, instead he allows for the audience to become accustomed to their surroundings and appreciate their beauty. Wide angle shots and long lenses are used for interior and exterior locations, showcasing the breakdowns of their interiors, while close-up shots are used to examine objects and characters in their most frail states. During the opening sequence involving Prideaux's botched secret mission, a simple concoction of jump cuts and lingering static shots concentrating upon various characters within the vicinity creates a sense of the tension, suspense and vulnerability of the situation and this is how Alfredson constantly keeps the audience engrossed. By providing those observing the action on screen with just enough information that they themselves become entwined within Smiley's investigation as he moves forward.

    Once the credits and a dedication to the films screenwriter Bridget O'Connor who passed away last year finish, the viewer is left with an overriding sense of satisfaction. Smiley's world is a far cry away from the glitz and glamour that the espionage genre has become accustomed to. There are no martinis in sight, but only reel upon reel of bureaucratic wrangling, childish bickering and greed-induced deal-making, where it seems everybody is working for themselves and their reputation rather than the nation's government that is employing them. Since its premiere at the 68th Venice International Film Festival 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' has been touted as an Oscar contender and it is easy to understand why, Tomas Alfredson has taken a solid source novel, utilized an established cast and infused the final concoction with elements from his own visual repertoire to create a wonderfully crafted film that does the original BBC televised series justice.
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  81. Jan 10, 2012
    9
    Tomas Alfredson has balls, and I'm talking huge ones. In crafting this mystery, he chooses to treat the narrative like a poker pro treats his hand in an intense poker match. He never reveals too much. This strategy is sure to disappoint and bore many viewers. After all, the narrative jumps back and forth rapidly from past to present, and we never get a very deep look into any of the characters. In fact, the one we're exposed to the most is George Smiley (Oldman), and his character's most notable feature is that he wears his emotions on the inside, so you can imagine the frustration viewers might have with this. But for me, this risky decision to keep viewers at arms length worked wonders. The entire time I was compelled to find any clue that would lead me to the discovery of the mole. Every time I came up empty handed, but this only increased my determination to keep trying. After finding out the identity of the mole in the end, I believe there is at least one scene that tells you who the mole is before the big reveal. I didn't realize the scene was a clue until the mole was revealed to me. So although Alfredson does play tough, he does give the viewers an opportunity to win. It's a small opportunity. The scene that comes to mind only lasts a few minutes, but it's a credit to him that he at least makes it worth your time to try. Because of this opportunity, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" manages to be one of the best mysteries in the last few years. It's beautifully shot and it rarely plays nice when you're wanting more details. Another incentive to watch this is the astounding cast. Oldman gives one of the best performances I've seen all year, and Tom Hardy does wonders with a small role as a frustrated and confused hitman. Everything about this movie is top-notch, so if you like the mysteries that give you a challenge, you have to check this one out. Expand
  82. Jan 10, 2012
    10
    It was a great film. I thought everything in it was well done. It has some of the best camera work I have seen in a film. The acting in the film is very subtle. It's a very good foil to the classic, over the top spy films such as James Bond.
  83. Dec 28, 2011
    10
    The best spy movie I've seen in the last 15 years and probably one of the best in its genre. If you like thinking about what you see and not just see some images pass by, that's the movie for you. Period.
  84. Jan 3, 2012
    10
    Yes, it's an intricate and challenging movie to follow. However, "Tinker" rewards your patience and intelligence, and ultimately, you'll "get it."
  85. Feb 9, 2012
    7
    Quite good movie. It's a bit slow-moving and not very action-orientated, but exciting if you catch the "rythm" of it. Gary Oldman is brilliant, truly deserves the Oscar nom.
  86. Feb 8, 2012
    6
    Saw this one in cinema eventually several days ago, as usual, I am totally ignorant to the eponymous worldwide bestseller novel or the BBC TV mini-series in 1979 starring Sir Alec Guinness. And my instant response when the ending-credits rolls is that it is too intricate for a feature film and with sustained jumping back and forth of the actual narrative, a first viewing could barely serve as an introduction. The grainy texture of the film is retro and unassuming, like its protagonist George Smiley, and a lengthy running time with tepid fixation to the minimal details are tiring, foolhardily devoid of any suspenseful theatrical stunt (the scene of file-theft in the Circus library could merely be qualified for the aim); sundry gory scenes of death are infelicitously irrelevant with the filmâ Expand
  87. Jan 10, 2012
    9
    A brilliant throwback spy movie. Great actors, great script, great filmography. Puts any James Bond or other throw-away Hollywood 'spy" movie to shame through sheer intelligence and intricacy. I love a good action flick, but that isn't all there is folks. I've never read any of the LeCarre books nor seen the BBC series from way back, but I saw it with my parents who did. This movie has zero "action" but a fast moving, well-crafted plot! Expand
  88. Jan 12, 2012
    10
    So, having seen the thing twice, and having found it utterly absorbing both times through- I want to ask a question of the haters that seem to pile dreck onto this movie merely because it takes it's time. Did you watch the movie?
    Seriously...
    Everything about this movie is absorbing. There's nothing confusing about it, it's stream of consciousness- as Smiley learns more we see more, and as
    he learns more he realizes more and we see just enough to have a vague notion of what he's realized. The movie is kind of perfect, I can't think of one scene without the thought dovetailing into another and then into another. I look at one piece of the puzzle and I can't help but see the whole thing sprawl out of it.
    This movie is wonderfully constructed, anyone who says different is... You know what, agree to disagree... I disagree with you negative people! Emphatically!
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  89. Jan 12, 2012
    9
    I'm writing this review purely because I feel it would be a massive injustice to this film if people were put off by people assuming critics weren't being true to their feelings on the film or viewers are simply talking up their enjoyment to claim some perceived intellectual high-ground. This is certainly not an easy, sit back and consume film by any stretch of the imagination, but that is ultimately it's greatest strength, as the satisfaction at the final pay-off is all the larger for it. There are LOTS of strands to arrange and balls to juggle early on, and a massive part of this film keeping all the mental plates spinning as all the little pieces start to come together to create a seamlessly interlocking whole.
    I disagree with arguments of pretension in this film. While I feel it's valid for Thomas Alfredson's 'Let the Right One In' more so, though I also enjoyed that, there is no interpretation required, everything you need to know is either on screen or in the script. The more attention paid the greater the rewards, which is surely the perfect undercurrent for a spellbinding spy movie.
    I only don't give it a ten because if you either don't enjoy complexity in your films (though this is not the faux-complexity of bad story-telling) it isn't for you - which bares no relation to intelligence, purely taste. Classics need to be accessible and this isn't. But if you do access it it is a hugely rewarding and satisfying journey entirely unreliant on cheap tricks and hollywood mainstays. Two hours of beautiful brain workout and tantalising story depth.
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  90. Jan 13, 2012
    10
    This dense, slow, and complex film rewards the intelligent and invested viewer and repels those seeking a quick fix or spy thriller. Its sepia stained ambiance creates an increasingly tense character drama where a stellar cast interact at increasingly high tensions played, not through over dramatisation, but the machinations of the 70's English intelligence communities methodology. A highly rewarding film for those smart enough and engaged enough to commit to it. Expand
  91. Jan 14, 2012
    9
    Angels:
    This is a very good movie. You have to pay attention. It does not have a straight narrative. However, that is part of its appeal. It is a well constructed intriguing puzzle. The dialog is excellent. The acting is first rate. And there is a sense of suspense, or dread from beginning to end. Who is the mole? when is the next shoe going to drop? Will Smiley ever smile? If you
    are looking for a thoughtful, well constructed, beautifully acted, well-paced (o.k. slow paced) movie you will enjoy this immensely; I did. (In the interests of full disclosure, I have to tell you that my date fell asleep during the movie.)
    Shine Brightly Angels
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  92. Jan 16, 2012
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Got a chance to check out the movie "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy," starring Gary Oldman(The Dark Knight), Mark Strong(Sherlock Holmes), and Tom Hardy(The Dark Knight Rises). My first thought when I saw the previews for this movie is that it looks like a good movie. Then I said to myself, "Gary Oldman is in it, so how bad can it be." Gary Oldman is starting to become one of my favorite actors.

    At any rate, this is a movie about a man that was forced out of retirement, but is asked to investigate a mole in the circle of his former job. George Smiley's former occupation was an intelligence officer. Smiley must find the mole that was in his former group so he can figure out the problem they had in their former operation. Which took place in Budapest, Hungary. This movie takes place in the early 1970's.(Cold War)

    I have many thoughts about this movie so please bare with me! This is a movie that is going to be a little boring to some. This is a movie that you have to pay attention to. You may have to watch this movie twice, or even three times! To fully comprehend. Its a little hard to place what is going on at times in this movie. There were times it seems like they were going back in time, but it was a little hard for me to be sure. So there were parts in this movie were I made my first assumption and just stuck with it.

    What made this movie a little easy to follow(for first time watchers) was the acting that was done well. Gary Oldman might receive an Oscar for this movie. If you get lost, just pay close attention to what the actors are doing and that should give you a comfortable grasp of what is going on. This movie also has some gruesome scenes that were surprising. There are some parts that make you say "did that really happen," or "did he or she just say that?" If you were suspecting a shoot em up bang bang kind of movie, this is not the movie for you.

    Overall it is a solid movie. The acting is great. You have to keep in mind that your probably going to have to really be into these kinds of movies to fully appreciate this one. I give this movie the final rating of 7 out of 10.
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  93. Jan 19, 2012
    8
    I think that before you see this, you need to understand that this is a British mystery movie. The plots and story lines tend to have a lot more depth and dialogue than most American fares do. With that said, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a well-crafted movie that meticulously takes you through a story of espionage, double-crossing, and so many whodunit scenarios that it might actually have your head spinning (which is actually one of two downsides, along with the story's slow pacing, which can be tedious). A great watch for those who are patient and like waiting for the payoff. Expand
  94. Jan 28, 2012
    7
    No one can really dispute that the acting was fantastic. It is probably some of Gary Oldman's best work, and the entire cast did a great job. The imagery is great as well, and really adds to the setting of the entire movie. There are quite a few times when the shots say more than any of the character's words do. However, the pacing seemed to hit and miss. Sometimes it rushed ahead and you were sitting on the edge of your seat, and then sometimes it would seem to get lost and you couldn't wait for the scene to be over because it was just dragging on for too long. This is a movie that most people are going to need to see twice. Its complex and deep, and most people are going to come out of the theater confused about some of the finer points in the conspiracy. I recommend this movie, but any viewer should know that they can't just sit through the movie and trust it to spoon-feed you everything. You are going to have to think. But if you pay enough attention, you will be rewarded. Expand
  95. Jan 29, 2012
    10
    The best things were the acting and the story, very very intriguing. Highly recommended for the suspense/thriller audience. It was very confusing I would say, had to watch it two times to completely understand almost every detail about the plot, but that's not a bad point in my opinion. A great movie anyways.
  96. Feb 4, 2012
    10
    This was a very engrossing, tightly woven, and well-paced film, that doesnâ
  97. Feb 6, 2012
    2
    I really don't know what Alfredson was trying to accomplish with this movie because it is neither smart or complex; It's boring, uneventful, and totally confusing. Trying to be cerebral is one thing. Totally leaving your audience in the dust is another. And I say this admitting that I loved Let the Right one in - a beautiful movie. This on the other hand is self conceited mumbo jumbo.
  98. Mar 25, 2012
    6
    A well-made thriller the aim of which is to find out who the mole is. But ultimately, who cares? This movie will appeal to those people who enjoy doing crossword puzzles. I don't.
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 7, 2012
    63
    All of the pieces fall into place by the third act -- or most of them, anyway. But Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is such a cold, unemotional film that getting there is a chore, muting the payoff.
  2. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 7, 2012
    75
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the anti-Bourne of espionage movies, a deliberate, cerebral, grim and utterly absorbing film that makes covert operations appear as unsexy as the Bourne films made them seem fast-paced and thrilling.
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 5, 2012
    88
    The film requires close attention, especially while it jumps back and forth in time for the first half-hour, but all the pieces lock into place tightly by the end.