Forget James Bond, Welcome George Smiley: Review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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The Cold War was a period of intense espionage characterized by a lack of trust between nations like the USSR and Great Britain. Although the contentious developments of the Cold War occurred mostly on an international scale, the aim of director Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is to depict master spy novelist John Le Carre’s fascination with domestic betrayal on the home front, specifically with the British intelligence agency known as MI6.

When asked about their favourite British M16 agent, the question is likely to evoke images of the likes of James Bond, but with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I want those with a true appreciation for a great spy flick to cherish George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, as an admirable and prominent one-time fictional British spy hero.

At first mention, many may not recognize the name Gary Oldman. Amongst film connoisseurs, the likelihood is markedly higher. The fact of the matter is that not many of us truly respect Oldman’s work as much as it should be because he is the side role to those who are more prominently famed. For example, he was Detective Gordon opposite Christian Bale in The Dark Knight, he was the lunatic mobster opposite Jean Reno in Leon: The Professional and thirdly, he was the Russian terrorist opposite Harrison Ford in Air Force One.

There are several periods in the film where one is completely unaware of who is the double agent within the MI6, for Tomas Alfredson’s delicate directorial hand weaves this effect so brilliantly that information is presented to the audience in such a way that no suspicion can be cemented until the final sequence of the movie is completed. Thankfully, this combined with Oldman’s work of subtle yet moving acting makes the movie easy to follow for the viewer and instigates a pleasant amount of intrigue.

Ultimately, one can hope that perhaps with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Gary Oldman will finally garner the acclaim and brass to top off what has been a splendid acting career for the timeless Brit.

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