User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 367 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 64 out of 367
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  1. 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 areIf 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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  5. 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,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
  6. 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.
  7. 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 meansThis 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
  8. 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 isTinker, 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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 inI 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
  11. 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 byWhile 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
  12. 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 straightenThis 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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  13. 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
  14. Mar 24, 2012
    5
    Apart from the acting, this film is a perfect example of how to put an audience asleep. The movie is so terribly unenthusiastic about everything. The story while seeming interesting after all is said and done, but the execution and way the story is portrayed in the film couldn't have been more slow and boring. There was only maybe two parts in the entire film I actually enjoyed, one beingApart from the acting, this film is a perfect example of how to put an audience asleep. The movie is so terribly unenthusiastic about everything. The story while seeming interesting after all is said and done, but the execution and way the story is portrayed in the film couldn't have been more slow and boring. There was only maybe two parts in the entire film I actually enjoyed, one being ruined by the events in the story, and the other being short lived. That being said, the movie has a great lineup for the cast, and the acting on their part was quite good. Some may argue it isn't good, and my rebuttal would be that the acting was great, but rather the direction was poorly done. The cinematography was well done, and the set designs, props, and costumes were exactly right for the early 1970s. None the less, the film left a dry staleness to my mouth much like one would get after being served a platter of cold grits with no sides, or condiments. Unfortunately this is not a dish that can be spiced up, it is a film that must be taken for what it is. No matter how much I wished this were a good movie I still think it is complete rubbish and should be avoided unless you want to be put to sleep. For my full movie review, visit http://visuallyimpairedreviews.blogspot.com/2012/03/tinker-tailor-soldier-spy.html Expand
  15. 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 noTTSS 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
  16. 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 themAlthough 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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  17. 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 serveSaw 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
  18. 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.
  19. Apr 25, 2014
    5
    This movie is confusing. This movie is slow. This movie is even boring. However, this movie presents a mood, and presents it perfectly. The mood is bleakness and mystery. This movie is great at what it does, but what it does is to sap the life from you and make everything seem bleak.
  20. Sep 8, 2012
    6
    What's it all about?
    Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is the first feature length film adaptation of John Le Carre's well respected spy novel of the same name. Set in the early 70's, in the midst of the Cold War, the film follows retired spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) as he is tasked with uncovering a suspected mole in the British spy fraternity known as 'the Circus'.
    Should you watch it?
    What's it all about?
    Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is the first feature length film adaptation of John Le Carre's well respected spy novel of the same name. Set in the early 70's, in the midst of the Cold War, the film follows retired spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) as he is tasked with uncovering a suspected mole in the British spy fraternity known as 'the Circus'.

    Should you watch it?
    Following the press the film received and with the ensemble British cast (Oldman, Hardy, Firth, Hurt, Cumberbatch) I had high expectations for it. I'm sad to say the film fell somewhat short. Although a spy film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the complete polar opposite to Britain's most famous member of Her Majesty's Secret Service. Given what James Bond gets up to, it is therefore more than likely a far more realistic take on the world of government intelligence, in particular considering the era. This was not a problem for me, I love realism in stories but Tinker is too slow, too deliberate and too ponderous. Spying 70's style - glasses, coats, tweed and briefcases
    Granted that the standard of acting is high, as you would expect from the cast and Gary Oldman is captivating with his quiet and understated performance as Smiley. The production also deserves credit and these two pluses carry the film a long way.

    I'm sure that a lot of the detail of the book could not be squeezed into a two hour adaptation. The film is a slow-burner, which is usually my favourite type of story, but once the final act arrives it lacks any really punch and I could not recall any twist or even being led in any particular direction with my suspicions. Not what I would expect from a 'thriller'.

    Worth watching to see the all round strong acting performances and production but I will definitely be reading the book in the hope it delivers a stronger story.
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  21. Aug 18, 2012
    6
    Purely story driven film with great performances from a lot of fine British actors. Although the book was probably better coz there are lots of characters and names that you have to keep track off and there realy doesn't seem to be happening allot so it's easy to get distracted and lose focus. So don't watch it when you're wasted or spaced out ;)
  22. Sep 9, 2012
    6
    The plot is very difficult to comprehend, but the cast, the score, the screenplay and the atmosphere are all top notch. Ultimately, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a fairly enjoyable movie.
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.