Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) Review

There are going to be spoilers in this review, but not really too many heavy ones, at least I don’t think so.  People who have already read the novel of the same name by John le Carré should already know what’s going on.

And let me tell you, it definitely helps if you understand and have read the novel before watching this film.  If I hadn’t already been familiar with the story before walking in, I do believe that I would have been incredibly lost.

I was pretty let down by this film, because I was really looking forward to watching it.  Unfortunately, this movie was pretty much how I felt about War Horse; the trailer was better than the actual film itself.  At the same time, the trailer was filled with a lot of random images and sound bites from the film that weren’t too significant to the movie, at least from my point of view.

For example, the bit in the trailer where George Smiley (Gary Oldman) gets his eyes checked—I actually saw a lot of people interested in that bit on comments posted about the trailer.  That scene in the movie is just that—he’s getting his eyes checked, and gets new glasses, and that’s about all the attention that’s given to it.  Perhaps it was supposed to be some kind of symbolism about him being able to see more clearly or something, I don’t know.  I honestly didn’t give it too much thought other than “huh, so I guess that’s all we’re going to see about that.”

Again I walked into a film I knew I’d feel a little squicked by (anyone who has been consistently following this blog probably knows by now that I’m not huge on watching violent…anything, really), just because I was drawn in by the actors (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tom Hardy).  And again, I was incredibly disappointed by the result—not to mention there were some scenes that I didn’t really care for because I found them to be icky.

Anyway, just a few more little comments before I go onto the review bit.

One thing I had heard about before watching the film was that Cumberbatch decided to interpret his character, Peter Guilliam, as gay.  The original character in the novel, however, is not.  I’ve seen some discussions on this prior to watching the film, and a lot of people seemed to not really take to the idea—not because they were homophobic or anything, but moreso because they didn’t understand why an actor felt the need to turn a straight character gay.  Especially since, according to rumor, the character he was in a relationship with was nothing more than a minor one.

After having watched the film, I honestly have to agree.  I adore BC as an actor, and I’m definitely glad he’s getting more out there, but I think several people were onto something when they said his reinterpretation of Guilliam was rather unnecessary.  I think I kind of understood what he was trying to get at with that whole bit, but honestly it was such a small sliver of the movie with no apparent impact on the overall story that it almost felt like it was carelessly tossed in there.

The main thing that bothered me about the movie though, was that it seemed like it was trying to be too over the top “artsy,” if that makes any sense.  I’m all for art house and indie films, but this one was just a little too much for my liking.  The story was definitely not linear enough for me to follow, even already being familiar with the story, and the flow just seemed too irregular.

Looking at the film also from a sort of removed perspective, I think there were just so many holes that if a person hadn’t read the book or had no idea about the story whatsoever, they probably would have been twice as frustrated as I was.  In fact, I think my friend that I went with to see this can kind of attest to that.  He went in with only knowledge of the trailer in mind, and he was constantly whispering me questions throughout the movie about parts he didn’t get.

Unfortunately, this ended up just being another one of those movies where I went expecting more than I received.  Perhaps I was too hopeful, since I feel like this movie could have been the chance for some of these actors to shine (I feel like a couple of them have become a little forgotten and the others seem like either they’re just starting to get noticed or appreciated).

So now for the review portion of this entry.

Originality: N/A – Since it’s an interpretation of the novel.
Picture: ***
Sound: ***
Story: *
Casting: ***
Re-watch Factor: *
Overall: *


Okay, I admit to being super biased with this one.  I really want to give it an F, but I suppose that would be too harsh of me.  Let me tell you though, I was pretty ready to walk out about 20 minutes into it, and my friend took a nap for about 60% of the movie.  I felt pretty tired myself by the end of it.

Anyway, I’ve been looking at all the movies that are coming up so far and it seems like nothing eye-catching is coming out just yet.  I am intrigued by all these rumors of a second installment of the 2009  Star Trek reboot (which apparently was meant to be a trilogy anyway, I wasn’t aware), and an Avatar 2 (which I admit has a bit of my interest, but I’m kind of curious as to how that story is going to go—I mean, I don’t remember there really being any cliffhangers/plot holes in the first Avatar). Here’s to hoping 2012 will have a less disappointing turnout of movies.

In other news, work has been keeping me pretty busy, so I haven’t really been blogging as consistently as I would like to.  Not sure when the next time I’ll be able to post will be, but maybe one of these days I’ll finally figure out how to get into a regular posting rhythm.

Until next time!

6 responses to “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) Review

  1. With so much information being thrown at us, I wish that there was much more time for all of it to just sink in but I liked the fact that the film made you pay attention to every little detail as this story just kept building and building. Everybody here in this cast is great too, especially Oldman who perfectly brings this flick together. Good review. Check out mine when you get the chance.

    • Whoa, I thought I commented on this a while ago, but I guess not, lol. I did like that you had to pay attention, but I was trying to look at the movie from a viewpoint of someone who walked in without knowing what the story was even about, and I feel like it would have been close to impossible to follow. I did love the cast, I just didn’t feel like they all completely clicked though.

      Thanks for checking my entry out though, as always! 🙂

  2. I will say that you bring up a lot of good points for the film and some of the shortcomings and expectations that viewers might have with this movie. I went into the film having seen the BBC series, but not the novel it was based on and I kind of had a head start on the all the intricacies of the story. If you wanted to give it another go, definitely check out the series on Netflix as it will give you a lot more depth to the characters and some more details on the plot. Otherwise, fantastic review. Love you writing.

    Also I did write a review for it myself, check it out if you can. Cheers!

    • Thanks! Yeah def, I’m taking a look at your entry right now.

      I tend to stay away from TV series just because I don’t have the patience to sit through most of them (haha, I’ve got a short attention span in a way), but I’ll consider checking it out on a day when I’m not doing much.

  3. Had a really hard time keeping up with this movie and ended up not liking it. I think a big part of it was the way it was edited. Because of it you had to pay attention to everything and if you missed one little thing you’d be lost.

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