New Delhi: Based on the novel by John le Carre, 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' is intense and cerebral. There is not one point in the movie that allows the audience to lose focus or leave their seats for any reason. Every scene, every subtle dialogue is vital to the plot.
The movie stars Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciaran Hinds. Directed by tomas Alfredson – the plot is based on the 1974 espionage novel with subtle changes woven in.
The story is of a time when espionage was not 'Mission Impossible' type high tech or 'James bond' type cool. These spies are intelligent, sharp, lethal and most importantly – vividly real. No cool gadgets, no stunning locations – nothing to tie you to your seats except razor sharp brainy calculations.
The main story line revolves around a retired British intelligence officer George Smiley (Gary Oldman) getting back behind his desk to track a 'mole' – a double agent present in the top order of the 'Circus' - the British Intelligence. Agent Jim Prideaux is sent to Budapest by Control (John Hurt) to get valuable information from a Hungarian general about the 'mole'.
The operation blows up when Prideaux is shot and left bleeding. Control and Smiley retire after this bloody fiasco and soon after Control dies. The Circus now gets taken over by Percy Alleline (Toby Jones) with Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) as his deputy and Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) as close allies. They establish their status by delivering high-grade Soviet intelligence material, code named 'Witchcraft', about which both Control and Smiley were suspicious.
Smiley is brought out of retirement by Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney) who wants him to investigate an allegation made by Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) that the Circus has a mole. Smiley and Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) starts by investigating officers who were on duty the day Prideaux is shot – and who no longer work with the Circus. They are – Connie Sachs and Jerry Westerby.
As the story unfolds – we come to know that Prideaux is alive and has been repatriated. The more truth Smiley covers – more damaging evidence comes out that not only questions his work but the relationships with his wife. The mole has been leaking genuine British information to Polyakov (The Soviet diplomat the Connie Sachs suspected and was fired for) and the Witchcraft material is mostly 'chicken feed', created to persuade the Americans to share intelligence with the Circus, which the mole could then pass on to the Soviets.
But as Prideaux shoots Haydon in the last scene and a single tear rolls out of his eyes – the secret has been uncovered. Control had codenamed the suspects 'Tinker' (Alleline), 'Tailor' (Haydon), ‘Soldier’ (Bland) and 'Poorman' (Esterhase) – thus the 'spy' must be uncovered like the chess pieces on Control's table.
The whole story is like an intricate chess match, every move, every agent – every information piece is as vital as the opponents' next move. So intensely cerebral that one wishes at so many moments that he/she had the remote in hand to rewind and hear the dialogues once more – just in case he/she missed something that could alter the next scene.
The movie happens to be a little slow on the senses for there are no cool gadgets, no high power action sequences – nothing that we have become familiar with in these days. The movie has a faint aftertaste of 'The Good Shepard' – the Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie starrer – intense and brilliantly intelligent – a strong, clever treatment of a crackling story.
Don't miss this movie – but don’t expect laugh out loud moments, or edge of the seat types action. Just watch and understand.