Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 351 Ratings

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  • Summary: The time is 1973. The Cold War of the mid-20th Century continues to damage international relations. Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6 and code-named the Circus, is striving to keep pace with other countries’ espionage efforts and to keep the U.K. secure. When things go awry, it's up to top lieutenant, George Smiley, a career spy with razor-sharp senses, to get things back on track. (Focus Features) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Dec 15, 2011
    This superb remake has the inevitable look of a period piece, a smoke-filled rendering of things past. However, thanks to Tomas Alfredson's direction, a taut screenplay, and a uniformly brilliant cast, the film also retains its contemporary relevance.
  2. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Dec 9, 2011
    The screenplay, by Peter Straughan and his late wife, Bridget O'Connor, is debonair. Alfredson's mastery of tone and ambiance is flawless. The bloodletting is brief and necessarily appalling, the comedy mordant: I guarantee you will never sing along to "Mr. Woo" in quite the same way again.
  3. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 8, 2011
    A pleasurably sly and involving puzzler - a mystery about mysteries within mysteries.
  4. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Dec 22, 2011
    A smart and engaging entertainment.
  5. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Dec 8, 2011
    The film's best moments are the quiet ones in which Oldman's ironically named Smiley provides the story with its wise, unsmiling soul.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 29, 2011
    At two hours, the film version is a third the miniseries' length, requiring severe compression by screenwriters Peter Straughan (The Debt) and Bridget O'Connor, which they've accomplished smartly.
  7. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Dec 27, 2011
    The new film will recruit new friends to the cause; but if we seek George Smiley and his people, with their full complement of terrors, illusions, and shames, we should follow the example of the ever-retiring Smiley, and go back to our books. That's the truth.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 67 out of 118
  2. Negative: 39 out of 118
  1. Dec 9, 2011
    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
  2. Jan 10, 2012
    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. Collapse
  3. Nov 9, 2014
    This film is edge of seat gripping throughout, the tension does not let up for a second, and considering it isn't an "action" film. It is quite confusing, but if you properly watch it you should keep up. Every performance is fantastic, especially Gary Oldman, who is always brilliant, and this could be his best yet. Expand
  4. Dec 31, 2011
    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.
  5. Jan 8, 2012
    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.
  6. Dec 18, 2011
    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).
  7. Jun 3, 2012
    Yeah I actually gave up on this movie. If you like it than you are a liar. I don't think the director and producer understand the story. It was so bad I registered here just to give it a 0. Truly one of the worst movies of all time. I saw random people walking behind windows in the movie like Blair-witch and I am not sure if they knew if they were part of the movie or not. Expand

See all 118 User Reviews


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