John Le Carré’s classic spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy becomes a feature film – and the result is a superbly clever, fiendishly gripping thriller that measures up to the iconic BBC TV series from 1979.
In the lead role, Gary Oldman has the hardest of hard acts to follow – Alec Guinness’s TV portrayal of spycatcher George Smiley is one of the finest ever examples of screen acting. Astonishingly, Oldman finds new shades and nuances in the character as the intricate plot unfolds.
Set in Cold War-era 1973 (perfectly evoked), the story revolves around Smiley’s hunt for a Soviet mole at the heart of the British secret intelligence service. Is the mole the ambitious Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), dubbed ‘Tinker’ by Smiley’s old boss (John Hurt)? Or Colin Firth’s charmingly dapper Bill Haydon, ‘Tailor’? Or solid Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds), ‘Soldier’? Or Hungarian refugee Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), ‘Poor Man’?
As the patient, ever-watchful Smiley sifts through the suspects, he displays none of the macho heroics of a typical screen spy. But thanks to the cast’s brilliant acting and deft direction by Tomas Alfredson (maker of Swedish vampire thriller Let the Right One In), his mission is as tense as any Bond or Bourne escapade.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 30th January by StudioCanal.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.