Monday, 24 October 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier MOLE!

I'm back ladies and gentlemen! Have you missed me? Probably not. Well here I am none the less. And I return with a movie hailed as a modern masterpiece! But is it? Let's break this down. It's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

So what is it even about? In the most simple of descriptions, it's a spy thriller. Set in 1970s' London during cold war hysteria, the movie tells the story of the struggles within MI5 and MI6 after a disastrous mission in Budapest, Hungary in which Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) was shot. This fiasco causes Control (John Hurt) and George Smiley (Gary Oldman) to leave the Circus (the name given to the top ranking members of the service) but Control is under the impression that there is a mole within the Circus. After Control passes away, Smiley comes out of retirement to try and catch the mole. The four remaining members, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), were all considered suspects by Control, as was Smiley. With the help of Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) Smiley sets out on finding the mole.

At the MI5 library, they have boxes, not books.

As far as casts go, this one is incredible. The finest British actors all in one movie and all of them provide exceptional performances. the stand out role for me is definitely Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only does he have the coolest name known to man, he's also a damn fine actor. My favourite scene in the entire movie contained very few words, just Cumberbatch working his way through a library where he should not be. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Gary Oldman is also superb. There is not a bad word to say about that man. When you've starred in both Batman and Harry Potter, you know you're on the road to success. This is his finest performance in recent years and I'll be damned if he doesn't at least get nominated for best actor. The rest of the support are outstanding. Another particular mention to Tom Hardy as Rikki Tarr, a rogue agent who has a bit of a scuffle at one point with Benedict Cumberbatch.

And yes, the forums are full of arguments. They are always bound to be when you release a movie classed as a spy thriller and it's not action packed. Don't be mistaken, this film is long. It is not a James Bond type spy thriller. It's a sophisticated, intelligent, whodunit. The whole film is an investigation and for the film to reach it's potential, you have to think about the evidence shown to you and try to figure it out yourself. Director, Tomas Alfredson, isn't known for his fast paced movies. That's not his style. His previous film, Let The Right One In (reviewed here) was a vampire movie that was beautiful. He tells a story and he tells it well.

And of course, let's spare a quick word for the more technical elements. I love the way this film was shot. The formerly mentioned library scene, another tense scene involving a plane landing. The latter scene in particular was wonderfully shot. A still camera shot as the propellers got closer and closer. The soundtrack was subtle and perfect. The style of the film, the dark, cold way in which it was shot really emphasises the notion of the cold War. The depression, the fear and the anxiety. Technically, this film was outstanding.

Colin's rendition of 'I'm a little teapot,' didn't go down very well with The Circus

'But Phil!' I hear you cry, 'What do you think of the film as a whole? You sound like you loved it.' I enjoyed it, yes. I don't feel I can go as far as other critics and claim it's perfect or that it's a masterpiece. It is a very well made film. However, the very slightest distraction can make you lose the entire plot. Need to run to the toilet? You're going to have a lot of thinking to do. It is also very slow. I found myself making jokes too often in an attempt to make the movie more interesting at points. I say points because it truly is a fascinating movie and you should see it. But you need a decent attention span. Personally, I'd prefer to watch Let The Right One In over this, but that's just my personally preference.

So in a nutshell, pay a lot of attention, you'll love it. Get distracted easily and you won't understand what is happening and therefore you're unlikely to enjoy it. And unfortunately, I just can't find myself able to give it a fifth star.

Best Bit? As I have already mentioned, Benedict Cumberbatch's tense trip to the library.