Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a new version of John Le Carre's classic novel, is a surprise because it reminds the audience that, once upon a time, Gary Oldman was considered an actor. But, that earlier flash of insight did not also tell people that Oldman was a hack, that he would star in anything, as roles in Lost in Space, the Harry Potter franchise, the Batman franchise, remakes of Red Riding Hood, bad guys against Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington, and a series of video game voice acting gigs, would show.
One day, people thought, Gary Oldman might again be in a good film.
One day, he might act again.
Fortunately, Tomas Alfredson, known for the 2008 Let the Right One In, missed the last decade of Oldman's acting career, and cast him in the superb, stylish, retro spy thriller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Set in the sixties or seventies, the film tells us that there is a spy at the top of the British Secret Service, a mole that must be dug out. In secret and fearful, Control, the man who runs the service, begins a doomed operation, the failure of which will see him and George Smiley forcibly retired. It is not until a second person returns with knowledge of a mole that Smiley returns to hunt down the mole, picking up where the now dead Control left, trying to decide who, in a choice of four men, is the culprit.
The film rarely puts a foot wrong, or at least, that was my thought. I particularly liked the way it handled Smiley's relationship, and the small touch of Peter's was, I thought, also done well and deftly. It was even nice to see John Hurt, yelling and stumbling across the screen, as he always seems to do these days. I could go on and on about the things I liked, but, really, to do so is to spoil the film, and I will refrain from that, though I do want to say one thing. At the end of the film, it struck me that I had watched an entire thriller where there was not one long, elaborate action slash stunt scene. You know the type: the character leaps from buildings, has a blazing shoot out, or fights an armed man with his watch and a pin between his teeth. I have actually nothing against these things--I have and do like them.
But, it struck me, how refreshing, how enjoyable it was, that the tension in the film, the excitement, was created without those elaborate moments.
Anyhow, like I said, I enjoyed it.