Another week. Another Blog. Another remake. Another disclosure that I have not watched the original.
This week it is the turn of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
PLOT: There is a mole at the top of the British Secret Service and George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is brought out of retirement in order to investigate the rat. Smiley’s investigation interweaves with the stories of Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) and Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy). There is corruption. There is backstabbing. There is an oddly tragic bromance. The mole is discovered. The rat symbolises obviousness. END PLOT
The first half hour of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is deliberately slow and the film never really picks up speed – but it isn’t supposed to. The tone of the film is steady and purposeful and the plot follows suit although that is not to say that the film drags in anyway as it doesn’t.
The clever aspect of the Tinker Tailor is that whilst we are told through flashbacks Jim and Ricki’s involvement we are never told just how Smiley ties everything together. There is no “light bulb” moment as Smiley just quietly gets on with business – even the showdown between Smiley and the Spy is done in a dignified British manner without so much as a raised voice.
It is refreshing to see a spy film which doesn’t involve explosions, copious amounts of running around, gun fights in which no one ever gets shot and a big soundtrack. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has none of these traits and it is a testament to the plot and performances that a glimpse into the more bureaucratic world of Spies is so engrossing.
The cast are absolutely phenomenal – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy stars the top level of British acting talent lead by the more than capable Gary Oldman.
There are several moments in the film which you can easily see as being part of Oldman’s Best Actor film reel at the Oscars. His performance is absolutely mesmerising and is definitely the best of the year so far – it will take something special from “Oscar Season” to top it.
The rest of the cast are just as strong; Benedict Cumberback, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and Tom Hardy are all fantastic but it is Mark Strong who stands out amongst them. It is rare to see Strong strip back the hard-man that he plays so well in favour of a broken man but it suits him surprisingly well.
The film is dark, miserable and beige and captures the dirty look of London in the 1970’s very well. There are no clever or jerky camera shots as the film is shot at a very wide angle with the camera rarely moving once each scene begins. There is no trickery in the film making - it's 100% plot and performance.
On first viewing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an absolutely amazing film but it needs at least one more screening to just to appreciate both the film and the performances. It gets a 10/10 – if this is a glimpse of what we can expect from Oscar Season 2011 is going to end on a major high.
People can argue the pros and cons of remakes until they are blue in the face but the fact is it is worth sitting through a summer of Conan the Barbarians in order to get one Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.