When Control (John Hurt) got wind that there may be a mole within British Intelligence passing details to the Soviets he sent an agent to Budapest in the hope of forcing the mole to reveal them self. The mission went wrong, resulting in both Control and master spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) heading off in to retirement. But a year later the rumours of a mole resurfaces with those in charge bringing George Smiley out of retirement to head up an investigation into who that mole can be.
Picture a man who loves movies, loves them so much that he will watch pretty much anything but he isn't a big reader, preferring visual entertainment to the written word and who isn't old enough to have watched many of the movies and TV series of the 70s when they were first made. You have in essence pictured me because as a child born in 1972 I was too young to be interested in the highly regarded adaptation of the John le Carré novel when it aired in 1979. You may be wondering where I am going with this but you see having sat through the 2011 adaptation of John le Carré's novel I was left feeling that this was a movie made for those who watched the 1979 adaptation or read the book, basically this was a movie for those who already knew the story.
The trouble is that "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" bobs and weaves all over the place with various characters and names for things that you can't take it all in the first time you watch, you struggle to make sense of all the characters unless you already know the story. In fact I reckon you need to watch "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" at least three times before it becomes clearer who is who, what is what and you pick up on the little details. Now of course this creates mystery as you try to get to the bottom of things but it doesn't do a good enough job of drawing those in who are just discovering the story for the first time. It's not that the basic storyline is over complex, who is the mole is not complex, but it is all the other bits which cause the problems.
But despite this "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is a nicely put together movie with a lot of familiar and popular actors who will draw in a wide audience. And they all deliver consistently high performances with of course Gary Oldman receiving high praise for his take on George Smiley, making him a measured character, not prone to rash actions but whilst quietly observant not cold.
What this all boils down to is that "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" didn't blow me away and just ended up a well made movie with a lot of star power. In fact it is one of those movies which I am convinced is better for those who already know the story.