Based On: Novel by John le Carré.
Running Time: 127 minutes
Genre: Spy, Thriller
Cast: George Smiley, “Beggarman” (Gary Oldman), Bill Haydon, “Tailor” (Colin Firth), Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), Roy Bland, “Soldier” (Ciarán Hinds), Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Toby Esterhase, “Poorman” (David Dencik), Jerry Westerby (Stephen Graham), Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney), Percy Alleline, “Tinker” (Toby Jones), Control (John Hurt), Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova)
Synopsis: During the Cold War in 1973, the head of British Intelligence and his second in command, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced into retirement after a failed intelligence operation in Hungary. When an informant alerts the agency that the actions of a mole led to the failure of the operation, Smiley goes back to work and sets about getting to the bottom of things. He soon discovers that one of the four men that rose to the top after the coup is the mole, and must find out who to trust and who is a threat to the Free World.
Analysis: When I was growing up, the 1979 BBC mini-series with Alec Guinness as George Smiley was often on PBS, but it never held my interest because it was about a bunch of old people doing things that I couldn’t comprehend. I still haven’t had a second chance to revisit the mini-series, but recently I saw the movie version and even though it took awhile to get into the story, I was deeply into it by the end.
It was hard work remembering what things were like back during the Cold War when the Soviets where something to fear but I finally got into the correct mindset. Even though there are some action scenes, most of the action takes place in conversations and subtle flashbacks. In fact, I didn’t realize we were witnessing flashbacks at first until I realized that Smiley had different glasses in the past. In the end, it is a rewarding film if you pay attention.
- The film is stark and gray like everything was in the 70s.
- The flashbacks are great.
- Cold War nostalgia.
- Underrated actor Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux is great!
- Hard to get into.
- Must pay constant attention.
Be ready to do a little more work than usual if you pick up this film, but as you get used to the style and the slight dryness you will find yourself getting sucked into the story and rooting for Smiley to find the mole.