George Smiley, a recently retired MI6 agent, is doing his best to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, when a disgraced agent reappears with information concerning a mole at the heart of the service, Smiley is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley narrows his search to four suspects - all experienced, skilled and successful agents - but past histories, rivalries and friendships make it far from easy to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.
John Le Carre, the English author of the book “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, might have wanted to write an entertaining or interesting story but, the whole purpose of all his spy novels is to paint a skeptical and critical picture of the West. His British agents are anti-heroes, the antithesis of James Bond. From the beginning to the end, this whole film features dreary, drab and gloomy sets and interiors, whether we are in swinging free-market London or gray Communist Budapest. The important thing is that there is no distinction made between the gloom of the East or the West.
The notion of there having been a symmetry of culpability and morality between the Communist countries and the Western democracies, is a Marxian rhetorical relic out of the Cold War, which has been largely exposed as false and illogical. Freedom was missing from the Communist countries, which did not allow it's subjects to leave without an exit visa. These visas were difficult to come by and were only granted every three or four years, depending on the standing of the subject who was asking for permission to leave. Escape attempts were punishable by death. In Western countries, no permission is required for anyone who simply wishes to leave, for any reason, or for any amount of time.
Le Carres equivocating intellectual prevarication cannot hide the fact that there was also no freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association or freedom to decide which career one wanted to pursue, in Communist countries. The staggering poverty and squalor in East Germany, relative to the West, is also not mentioned or referenced in Le Carres Communist regimes. This whole reality is entirel hidden and must not be mentioned, in order to persuade the audience that Western agents are pathetic figures who lead frustrating lonely lives, in contra distinction to the impression one gets watching a James Bond blockbuster. In critical Marxist deconstructionist fashion, we are treated to the scene of a used Aston Martin, the kind that Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger, painted blue and towing the small outdated trailer-home of it's secret agent owner. Also following Marxist-feminist theory, we see the slogan painted on a wall, in the background, which reads “The Future is Female”. Most of the spies in our film are old single men swimming together in a dirty pond, for exercise, presumably.
This film starring Gary Oldman is a sleeper, despite Oldman's first class performance. It is truly difficult to stay awake through all the outdated Marxist self delusion and pessimism towards our Western society.
If you haven't read the book you'll never figure out what's going on. If you have read the book you'll want to throw up, if you can stay awake. Gary O. is so intent on being subtle he almost disappears. Poor Colin Firth should have passed this turkey by. The screenwriters can't have read the book - more's the shock Le Carre' was listed as one of the producers. The rest of the cast were almost invisible due, in large part to the script and poor direction. Save your money, wait till it ends up on cable so you can at least change the channel!
After sitting through the 2012 version I had to praise the Guinness performance as the best homage to the source. the Guinness portrayal so outshines Oldman that the producers should hace just re-issued this one. These characters make the cold war seem very real. The new version doesn't seem to be relavent to any time period. The supporting cast in this movie - including the great Ian Bannen - out shines the 2012 movie in every case. This is a movie every spy buff must have along with Smiley's People.