There was a time back in the seventies and early eighties when it looked like the world might be destroyed by Cold War intrigue. This was the era when John le Carré, author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was at the height of his powers. To many readers, le Carré was the man with the inside dope on how and when the apocalypse would come. And his books were consumed with according voracity.
Times change and to many the world of Cold War spying is as puzzling as the expression Cold War itself. Le Carré master of the deeply plotted mystery created several books featuring spymaster George Smiley. Of which Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the most famous, due in part to the award winning seventies TV series starring Alec Obi-Wan-Kenobi Guinness.
The plot to this story is deeply baffling. The performances dour and intense, which makes a welcome change, in these days of throw away violence and faux Hollywood super thrillers. Le Carré’s spies are real, in the sense that intrigue, not car-chase histronics provide the major part of the story— a convoluted tale concerning the uncovering of a traitor at the very top of British Intelligence.
As a veteran of the le Carré oeuvre, Crimezine was tasked with the lengthy and complex duty of explaining the byzantine plot to neighbor Jennifer Aniston, whom we somewhat foolishly invited to this movie. This is no date-night fun flick you can trust us on that, in fact several members of the audience gave up in frustration, preferring instead to bunk into a showing of helium voiced funsters Alvin & the Chipmunks—Chip wrecked, at a neighboring screen.
Other members of the audience gasped, moaned, even laughed out loud, at the unfolding drama on screen: Witchcraft? Circus? What the hell are they going on about, hissed Ms Anniston in bewilderment. In the end Crimezine had to give her twenty bucks to spend at the Popcorn stand. When she returned the questions continued apace. One of the pulchritudinous Ms A’s chief concerns was the casting of rom-com heart-throb Colin Firth as a double-dealing whoopsie of international proportions. One hopes that Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant appear in the sequel, or Crimezine will never hear the end of it.
Still, Gary Oldman is marvelous in the movie, that much has been universally acknowledged by critics—even if the moribund Mr Oldman wanders around geriatically for the first half an hour of the movie, uttering barely a word. Critics have interpreted this as the sign of a tortured genius at work, and have raved accordingly. To interpret otherwise might lead them to be considered intellectual lightweights with a penchant for popcorn, heaven forfend.