Film Review: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

There are spy stories which have become better by being turned into movies (Ian Fleming’s James Bond being the prime example) and there are those whose writers never should have given permission for their stories to be put on the screen. Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 is the latest example in a list which is longer than that of failed espionage plots during the Cold War.

I haven’t read John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I am not a particular fan of Mr le Carré anyway, but the film adaptation is horrible. Well, I could have guessed that much from watching the trailer.

You fell asleep, too? The two-hour film is worse. Much worse! Pretentious acting, annoying soundtrack, no coherent storytelling, no real suspense, no drama, none of the characters allows any emotional connection to be built up.

The film is trying to be something like a period drama with old-fashioned suits, old cars, creaking wooden floors in dusty offices. But isn’t the book set in 1973? It is! Weren’t the 1970s colorful, exciting, fun- and action-filled times? They were! Throughout the whole film, I had the impression that the film crew had accidentally booked a 1950s set instead of the 1970s set.

"When are we going to get a new office?" - "I already applied for one in 1962."

“When are we going to get a new office?” – “I already applied for one in 1962.”

If you want a good spy movie set in the 1970s, go for Argo or Munich. Much better films, better actors, better storytelling, better editing, better soundtrack and above all, true stories.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy tries to be a very serious, thoughtful, mature, dark spy movie, but it tries too much and fails miserably. Even watching something as silly as True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a better use of your time. Reading a good spy novel, by Eric Ambler for example, is even better, of course.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Cinema, Cold War, History, UK and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Film Review: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

  1. Lou-ter-Lou says:

    thanks for the warning :-)

    • Lou-ter-Lou says:

      oh and if you want a laugh (and I’m not particularly into ‘funny movies’ at all), just leave the Tinker-Tailer-Soldier-part out and watch ‘Spy’ instead. I did have a good laugh with that one (although it’s still also just a stupid spy-movie)

    • I have to admit, of all the silly movies in recent years, this was the one where the trailer caught my attention.
      I still felt too intellectual to go see it at the cinema, though. ;-)

    • Lou-ter-Lou says:

      Errr, I didn’t see it in the cinema either, my laptopscreen had to do for it :-P (*coughs*)

  2. brokenradius says:

    Sounds really intersting !!! I will definitely go’n watch it. ;-)

  3. So this is the thing that struck me as weird in this movie: it seemed to assume you were already acquainted with the Smileyverse, or at least with “The spy who came out of the cold”. Actors were quite excellent in fully fleshed, complex psychological characters but if you weren’t a Le Carré person it was impossible to appreciate that. It was a good adaptation of the book too!

    • Maybe that was my problem, not having read the books before.
      I have now read a few of the older novels, and I actually found them quite good. Much better than the modern, topical ones. I also liked Mr le Carré’s autobiography “The Pigeon Tunnel”.

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