PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Movie Guy

January 6, 2012

‘Tinker’ over-stuffed but satisfying spy story

— Most spy movies are adrenaline-fueled action thrill rides that are stuffed with car chases, gunfire and brutal fist fights. They make for great popcorn entertainment, but there’s another type of spy movie: one that’s more of a cerebral puzzle than a physical endeavor. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is one of these films; a superb espionage tale that will delight fans of great acting and complicated plotting. Then again, fans of “Mission Impossible” or James Bond style spy thrillers will probably be completely bored here.

Based on John Le Carré’s 1974 best-seller, “Tinker” delves into the murky waters of MI6, the British Intelligence Service, also known in the film as “The Circus.” The extremely complicated story involves the efforts of one retired agent (Gary Oldman) to uncover the identity of a Soviet spy who’s working as a high-level agent in MI6. Make sure that you go to the restroom before the movie starts, because the plot is so complex that if you have to leave the theater for any reason, you might not be able to catch up on what’s going on in the movie.

That complexity is both a pro and a con for the film. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see a movie that demands that the audience pay attention to what’s going on in the film. Then again, there’s so much story that the film feels over-stuffed. Two hours is simply not enough time to get it all in. Indeed, many people prefer the six-hour mini-series from 1979 because it was able to parse out the information in a more controlled manner than this new film.

The mini-series is also notable for starring Alec Guinness, but the new “Tinker” certainly features a superb group as well. Oldman headlines the cast, but John Hurt, Cirian Hinds, Toby Jones and Tom Hardy round out one of the best ensemble casts of the year. There’s not a bad performance among the bunch, and “Tinker” doesn’t lower its standards by casting a hot young actor to draw in the teenagers. These are mostly old men, old lions of the British stage and screen, and their abilities are clearly evident in this film.

Ultimately it will be that distinction that should inform your decision about whether you want to see this film or not. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” isn’t exciting or visually overwhelming, and it never tries to wow the audience with anything other than great acting and a thinking-person’s story. I think that makes for a great film, certainly one of the best of the year, but I understand why teenagers would look at me and think that this old man of a film critic has gone crazy. 

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.

1
Text Only
Movie Guy
  • Les Miz.jpg Beloved Broadway musical shines on big screen

    “Les Misérables”
    Universal Pictures
    Directed by Tom Hooper.
    Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter
    Rated PG-13
    3 1/2 Stars

    December 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Dredd 3D copy.jpg Second time’s the charm for Judge Dredd

    “Dredd 3D”
    Lionsgate Films
    Directed by Pete Travis
    Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris and Domhnall Gleeson
    Rated R
    3 Stars

    September 26, 2012 1 Photo

  • End of Watch.jpg ‘End of Watch’ a macho love letter to LAPD

    “End of Watch”
    Open Road Films
    Directed by David Ayer
    Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrara, Cody Horn and David Harbour.
    Rated R
    3 Stars

    September 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Res Evil copy.jpg New Resident Evil stale repetition

    September 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • Cold Light copy.jpg Shouldn’t have seen ‘Light of day’

    “The Cold Light of Day”
    Summit Entertainment
    Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
    Starring Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver and Roschdy Zem
    Rated PG-13
    1 Star  

    September 14, 2012 1 Photo

  • Hit and Run copy.jpg “Hit and Run” is hit and miss

    “Hit and Run”
    Open Road Pictures
    Directed by Dax Shepard and David Palmer
    Starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth and Beau Bridges
    Rated R

    2 Stars

    August 24, 2012 1 Photo

  • ParaNorman.jpg “ParaNorman” is silly and scary fun

    “ParaNorman”
    Focus Features
    Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell
    Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Rated PG
    3 1/2 Stars

    August 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • BourneLegacy.jpg New “Bourne” doesn’t live up to his legacy

    “The Bourne Legacy”
    Universal Pictures
    Directed by Tony Gilroy
    Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach and Donna Murphy
    Rated PG-13
    2 ½ Stars

    August 13, 2012 1 Photo

  • Total Recall.jpg ‘Recall’ remake not as memorable as original 

    “Total Recall”
    Columbia Pictures
    Directed by Len Wiseman
    Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy and John Cho
    Rated PG-13
    2 Stars

    August 3, 2012 1 Photo

  • IceAge.jpg ‘Ice Age’ floats on towards mediocrity

    “Ice Age: Continental Drift”
    Fox Animation
    Directed by Steve Martino
    Starring Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Peter Dinklage, Chris Wedge and Keke Palmer
    Rated PG
    2 Stars

    July 13, 2012 1 Photo

Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Facebook
Sports Tweets
Photos