Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Blu-ray Review
The spy world has always been a place for me to go to escape the real world. Watching James Bond movies with my Dad are some of my favorite memories growing up. They’re actually pretty simple movies, lots of action, gadgets, danger, and ultimately the hero overcoming and defeating the bad guys. But recently there have been a few movies (like THE GOOD SHEPHERD) that have taken a more stoic, reserved view of the spy life. Up to this point I hadn’t decided if I was a fan of this type of spy movie… So, it was with anticipation (and a little worry) that I opened TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY takes place in the early 1970’s in Great Britain, at the height of the Cold War. The head of MI6, Control (played by John Hurt of the recent HARRY POTTER films) is trying to root out a Russian mole within his intelligence cabinet. Control is fired when an operation goes sideways and very publicly, an innocent bystander is killed. With him, a lot of ‘old school’ folks are summarily dismissed from the Circus (code for MI6), including an older operative named George Smiley.
The possible suspects are referred to in code (based on an old British poem): Tinker is Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), who takes over the division when Control is removed. Tailor is a philandering agent named Bill Haydon (Colin Firth). Soldier refers to Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds), second in command of London Station behind Haydon. Poor Man is Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), the final man in at the top of the Circus. And Beggar Man is Smiley himself.
When Control dies just months after his withdrawal from the Circus, a senior government official meets privately with Smiley and asks him to look into the possibility of a mole. Smiley assembles a small team to help him, including Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the new BBC Series SHERLOCK HOLMES). Peter is an agent in the Circus, so he is able to move in and around the building without drawing suspicion. But because their actions are not officially occuring, if they are ever caught they would be considered traitors.
The cast for this film is incredible and features great turns from all of the core group (mentioned above) but perhaps most importantly the movie firmly establishes the incredible talents of the supporting players. These include Mark Strong (in a very different role than his KICK-ASS bad guy), Tom Hardy (solid in INCEPTION and WARRIOR, gives a great turn here), and finally Cumberbatch, who I think has the potential to become a household name on this side of the pond. Additionally, the writing, editing, and direction lay out all of the clues on the table for the audience in a phenomenal way – we get to sort through the mystery along with Smiley. This may sound fairly simple but to put everything from a best-selling book into a format that can be covered with clarity in 2 hours is quite a feat. Facts are revealed in just such an order as to keep you guessing the entire way through.
The only gripe I have with the movie is with the pacing (way too slow). I get what the filmmakers were trying to do, the pace establishes the slow build… but in the end it hurts the story and the performances suffer. With anyone other than Gary Oldman (who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance), TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY simply would not have worked. I’ve always loved the way he is able to disappear into his roles – and Smiley is no different. He is the perfect spy, someone you would never even remember if you passed him on the street, but a person who would catch every single movement you made. This a GOOD movie that could have been GREAT, but everything is so understated it actually pulls us out of the story at inopportune moment.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.35:1 Widescreen) The picture is well done and beautifully shot. The High Definition experience of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is immersive and beautiful.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is equally impressive on the Blu-ray release of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. You will feel like you are in the middle of the action, whether it’s flying forward or moving at a slow crawl.
Audio Commentary with Director Tomas Alfredson and actor Gary Oldman If you’re hoping for a more exciting commentary than the regular sound track of the film… you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you are hoping for an insightful commentary that offers some really interesting points on the adaptation and making of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY you will be pleased. There are a few moments of silence, but it is worth it.
Deleted Scenes (06:08) As is usually the case, the scenes that were cut were definitely cut for a reason. One of them gives away too much information too soon, another is a long shot of Gary Oldman, as he cooks and eats an egg. That’s it. Thank goodness these gems didn’t bog down the already plodding TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY: First Look (13:00) A quick featurette that reminds us just how many stars are prominently displayed during TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. This is standard fair but it’s pretty fun.
Interviews: This is a set of 5 interviews featuring Gary Oldman (07:40); Colin Firth (06:33); Tom Hardy (03:27); Director Tomas Alfredson and Co-screenwriter Peter Straughan (07:01); and John le Carré (31:48). While they are all interesting, they are also extremely low key, making it hard to stay awake after watching TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. Only le Carré gets a real treatment with his interview and he is fascinating. (All of the other interviews feature a George Smiley title card between each answer.) There are a few interesting tidbits but the only one I recommend is the interview with John le Carré. But – thank you Universal – thank you for including a ‘play all’ button this time!
This release of the Blu-ray for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY comes with a DVD copy of the film, BD-Live functionality, Pocket-Blu special features you can access via your smart phone (with the free Pocket-Blu app), and an UltraViolet digital copy.