Friday, 16 September 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Review

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Year: 2011
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
Country: UK and Hungary
Language: English
Runtime: 127 minutes

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
For most people, this was one of the most anticipated films of the year, and I can hardly blame you for your anticipation. It has one of the most exciting casts assembled in recent years, featuring names such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. It is also an espionage movie, a sub genre that people seem to adore. Sadly though, I maybe got a little bit too excited, and started expecting a masterpiece. This was also influenced by the brilliant feedback from Rotten Tomatoes, currently holding a 97% rating, and the first ever 5-star review from my local newspaper that they have ever published. So, you Americans can anticipate November however much you want, I just expected a little bit more. It is still, however, a good film.

One thing in this film that certainly does live up to its expectation is the cast. Every performance is unique and nothing short of award worthy. Gary Oldman is as subtle and versatile as ever, and although he doesn't get as much screen time as I initially thought, Colin Firth is also a joy to watch. A standout however, for me, quite surprisingly, was Benedict Cumberbatch. This is not because he has a reputation as a bad actor, it's because I've never really heard of him or seen him in anything else. His performance fits in perfectly with the narrative and he deftly blends in with the rest of the cast. The conflict between some of the characters is fascinating and gripping, and the chemistry between all of the characters is brilliant, considering how well developed each of them are. 

For me, this film went through long stretches of tedious scenes that although were indeed necessary, could have had a little bit more flare or taken a bit more of an impact. Some of the scenery in this film was really, really dry, which quite honestly put me off the scene as a whole, so the dialog between the characters didn't have as big an effect as I had hoped it would. The dialog is good and coincides well with the genre, and whilst the dialog isn't anything revolutionary, it's perfectly suitable for the film. Despite the fact that he was working from a novel and a TV show, I felt that Alfredson could have tried a little bit harder to pack some punch into the film, to get the audience going and exhilarated, which is an aspect that I felt was a little bit lacking. 

The filming in this movie is as close to perfect as you can get. Each shot is perfectly placed, positioned and the characters are fitted very well into each shot. This was one of the best aspects of the film as a whole. Unfortunately, the film never really decides what pace that it's trying to go at, which really deteriorates the emotion that is supposed to be displayed within the film. Although the narrative is extremely interesting, it is slowed down by this constant confusion of what the film is trying to do - whether it's trying to garner emotion throughout, whether it's trying to be a thriller, or whether it's just trying to be interesting. All of these conflicting attempts at making a good film really left a bad taste in my mouth as I walked out of the theater.

Although I have pointed out a few flaws here, this is by no means a bad film by any stretch of imagination. It really does have more good aspects than bad, as I have pointed out - superb acting by an already superb cast, wonderful filming, peculiar yet interesting narrative, and these all bond together to make for a pretty darn good movie. I just felt that it could have been a little more thrilling, a little more captivating, it just felt as though it jumbled its paces a little bit too much. I think a steady, edging towards fast pace would have benefited this film, but it went in all guns blazing, and for that, I give it credit, I just expected a little bit more. This review is in no way supposed to put you off, because I will tell you this for nothing, America - you still have a hell of a lot to look forward to.


  1. Nice review, but I think you should have given the film 6 or 7 stars out of 10 rather than a very solid 8. I hope reading about your little disappointment with the film will make me lower my expectations and thus enjoy it more when the time comes. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

  2. I gave it a solid 8 because it was a solid film, it just didn't live up to all of my expectation.

  3. Nice review Colin. I'm gonna try and maintain a, I wanna see it...but kinda apathetic, view on this then hopefully I won't be prone to disappointment. I think even if parts do fall flat I'm intrigued to see it for the performances and actual filmmaking. Did you not watch any of Sherlock on BBC? Benedict Cumberbatch was in that with Martin Freeman. It was really good, it's probably on I-player still. I think he's supposed to be in The Hobbit too? Anyway, his future looks promising regardless! :)

  4. I missed Sherlock, thanks a lot :)

  5. 'Some of the scenery in this film was really, really dry, which quite honestly put me off the scene as a whole'

    ahh but this is important, the dry scenery adds to the blandness of these mens private lives. I liked the fact that it allowed the audience to figure the plot out for themselves, it never spoon fed you. Performances were execeptional. I've followed you.

  6. I am jealous you got to see this, it looks brilliant. Great review


  7. Good review. These are great books.

  8. "Unfortunately, the film never really decides what pace that it's trying to go at, which really deteriorates the emotion that is supposed to be displayed within the film."

    Interesting remark. Good review.