Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TTSS), a movie as complicated as its name, lives up to be a very complex and intelligent spy thriller. Unlike other popular British spy movies, TTSS lacks the secret gadgets, explosions, and other theatrical tricks and instead is purely based upon realistic spy actions. This movie, currently in theaters, is based in the 1970s Cold War era when spies for the United Kingdom were attempting to infiltrate the Russian intelligence agencies, just as the Russians were trying to return the favor. TTSS follows the life of George Smiley, a retired secret agent, as he attempts to uncover a mole that has been hiding in the upper workings of MI6.
While TTSS contains amazing cinematography, realistic spy actions and an amazing tone; it lacks a solid plot. At times, the viewer finds themselves asking, “Why did that just happen?” or “Was that important?” Sadly, as it is directed, the movie assumes that you have read the book it is based upon and that you understand everything that George Smiley knows. And using a series of confusing flashbacks, TTSS tries to reveal more of the answers to who the mole is through the eyes of Smiley. The numerous scene transitions are a bit choppy and tough to follow, making it difficult for the viewer to determine when a flashback is actually occurring.
The subtlety of the film is the main source of confusion and can be likened to a staircase. For if you miss a step of subtlety, you are left missing the following step, you will be stuck at the basement floor for the entirety of the movie.
And unfortunately, the ending itself leaves the viewer with many questions left unanswered. The fault of this falls solely on the film’s director, Tomas Alfredson, whose choppy scene changes and obsession with perfecting every detail of the surrounding environment comes at the cost of a fulfilling conclusion and thorough plot. The only redeeming quality is the fact that the movie feels like it is shot in the 1970s, setting a very good tone for the film from start to finish.
So while I desperately wish this movie would be great, I simply cannot give it a high rating due to the confusing nature of the film. As a result, this Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy gets an average 6.5/10.