If there’s one thing not lacking from the latest adaptation of John Le Carré’s best-selling 1974 novel, it’s pedigree. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, whose magnetic Let The Right One In was a masterpiece in cold, brittle tension and absorbing drama, it promises to bring the same Scandinavian magic which so gripped us all during Alfredson’s vampire opus.
The cast? A who’s who of top British talent. Gary Oldman stars as George Smiley, the film’s fulcrum: a former top spy brought out of retirement to uncover the mole working in the highest echelon of The Circus – essentially a cipher for MI6, where Le Carré used to work – he’s a picture of collected, stoic brilliance. The only man clever enough to outwit a double agent of such devilish skill that no-one else has a chance of catching him. In the canon of Oldman performances, he’s sure to be more Commissioner Gordon than Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg. Almost eerily calm under pressure, Smiley is the anti-Bond, doing his best work when hidden in plain sight rather than bombastically chasing through exotic locations.
Oldman’s Smiley is hired by Control (John Hurt) and told to hunt down the rogue Circus operative, accompanied by Benedict Cumberbatch’s Peter Guillam; the disarmingly English actor fresh from his star turn in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes update. Within The Circus higher circles are Bertie himself Colin Firth, the Inception-stealing Tom Hardy, Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds, with the ever-reliable Mark Strong also featuring as betrayed agent Jim Priveaux.
The plot, a hedge-maze of red herrings and twists, is sure to thrill, set within a cold 1970s captured with Alfredson’s eye for shadow, colour and composition. Oldman, from the earliest stages, has looked perfect for Smiley, and may have found a role which finally earns him a long-overdue Oscar nomination. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy promises much, and looks set to deliver.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is released September 16 in the UK and December 9 in the United States.