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3.3 out of 5 stars
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Blu-Ray + DVD)
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 9, 2012
The acting is impeccable. Gary Oldman completely disappears into the
role of Smiley; the voice, the walk, the tempo are all a unique
creation, a man who's strength comes from quiet, from watching, from
thinking, not from action. Rarely have we ever seen a movie hero this
passive. But this man is very actively passive. He may not move
physically, but his mind is racing like a computer. And Oldman is
surrounded by a top flight cast; Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt,
Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberpatch, etc.

The film is very well shot, delicately creating a dour world of beige
and brown mazes.

But in distilling a story this complex down to two hours, something got
a little lost for me. Smiley has to figure out who the mole in the
British secret service is. But with this much plot, and this little
time, we don't really get to know the suspects. So we watch and are
(intentionally) confused, and then answers start to emerge, and it's
all never less than interesting. But somehow it never crosses over into
the emotional or unshakably memorable either.

I loved Alfredson's 'Let the Right One In' for it's uncanny combination
of atmosphere, creepiness, intelligence and heart. For me, 'Tinker,
Tailor..." has the first three, but lacks the last. Some of that is the
nature of LaCarre's work. But somehow I remember more moments, and more
feeling from the now 30+ year old TV adaptation, even though it didn't come
close to this new version's rich sense of style. But by not having to rush
through a story this dense, there was room to really feel and experience it,
instead of just working to keep up with it.

But all that said, this is a refreshingly smart, adult, well-made and
challenging film in a world with far too few.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us with an impressive pedigree. Director Tomas Alfredson previously directed a critically, and publicly acclaimed vampire movie Let the Right One In, a foreign language movie, now remade as Let Me In starring Chloe Moretz. If you don't mind subtitles I highly recommend it, and the remake which is also very good.

Colin Firth won the Oscar last year. Gary Oldman, got nominated for an Oscar for this role. Mark Strong gave a great performance in The Guard, and Ciaran Hinds excels in playing spies, as in The Debt, and Munich.

If you're like me you have neither read the book, nor seen the series starring Alec Guinness, so my experience of watching it fresh might be a good indicator.

I probably would not have seen it if I did not accidentally meet someone in the movie business, who had seen Gary Oldman and the director do a presentation at their campus.

When asked how he would like playing a stoic character, as opposed to his often passionate characters, he said he had waited thirty years to play a role like this, that often actors don't get to pick and choose their parts, but take what is offered and to put food on the table, and hope one day...

As the movie begins, we become aware of a 'mole' at the circus, and an agent played by Mark Strong is sent to Hungary for a secret meeting to discover who it is. When complications arise retired agent, the stoic George Smiley played by Gary Oldman is brought out of unscheduled retirement to find the mole, the spy who despises his fellow spies. It's like a game of chess, with chess symbolism, where we read between the lines both of unfurling events, and Smiley's furrowed brows to gauge the churning depths that stoic masks.

He has a wife we never see, who cheats on him, and we anticipate a break in that stoic exterior, so as a study of character acting by Oldman this is a wonder to behold. In a way this movie sets out to be deliberately dull, somewhat the antithesis of the impression you get from a Bond movie, these men are bureaucrats, they ironically sing the Russian national anthem at office parties, not much seems to happen, they're not particularly interesting or handsome, with one or two exceptions, then the action livens up with an intrigue, betrayal and occasional murder.

When the finger of suspicion points different ways, the 'circus' people suspected get very nervous, knowing full well what the outcome of that suspicion will be.

As I sat very close to the screen, close enough to see the dots, I noticed the rather grainy footage like the detail of movies set in that era, the 70s. While I enjoyed it overall, this is definitely a more cerebral movie than say Bond, in fact it reminded me somewhat of The Good Shepherd, a movie I love, starring Matt Damon but which has gained mixed reviews. I think they were expecting The Bourne identity, instead of backroom antics at the CIA, the other circus.

Several people around me left the movie early on, did not give it a chance, a yuppie sitting next to me, clearly on an early date, started immediately checking his iphone for other movie showings, was annoying, and thankfully they left shortly after to see a different movie. So this is not perhaps a date movie.

I would say that I did not understand everything, some detail was lost I think in reducing this to a two hour movie. For instance, he gets a lighter from Magda,which seems important, who I assume was a woman but apparently was not. From an acting viewpoint, everybody gives a strong perofrmance, from a directing viewpoint, if you're like me you probably want more action, then it would not be what it is.

I am now curious to check out the original with Alec Guinness. I think fans of Gary Oldman and/or Le Carre's original story will love it, and a varied response among other people. The movie also got nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

I hope this was helpful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
Having seen some of the previous Alec Guiness product, I was poised to be disappointed howeveer I am pleased to note that I found this version very entertaining. While not having the detail of the Guiness version (time limits), it was very good and Gary Oldman did an excellent job. Worth having if you do not have the Guiness 6 hour series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I live some miles from the nearest cinema so I indulge my love of seeing films on the big screen about once a year. Because it's such a rare thing I try to make it an event of sorts. My big-screen film choice this year was the Tomas Alfredson-directed film version of John le Carré's 1974 novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TTSS).

In anticipation of seeing TTSS I read the novel. On the surface it may be a story about a group of spies but it is so much more than that. Complex and intelligent it was a wonderful read, but I wondered how a filmmaker could possibly craft such a story into a comprehensible film. I needn't have. Tomas Alfredson and the writers Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor distilled the novel into a film that can and should be watched again and again.

I saw it with two good friends, The Norwegian who had no prior knowledge of the story and The Englishman who had seen the 1979 BBC television adaptation. The Norwegian got lost in the story's flashbacks. The Englishman and I, in spite of its complexity, followed the story from beginning to end. I admit that although I got the gist of the plot I found parts a bit confusing. I was, therefore, looking forward to watching it again on DVD.

Because I had done some homework prior to seeing the film I was keen to sort out the bits I didn't understand. When I got the DVD I debated watching the film straight through and then exploring the extras and commentaries or the reverse. I opted to first watch the making-of featurette and listen to the audio commentary by Tomas Alfredson and Gary Oldman. I'm glad I did because the two combined to refresh my memory and answer the questions I had carried away from the initial watching. I gave The Norwegian and The Englishman this intelligence. They got back to me a week later saying they too had benefitted from listening to the audio commentary, especially The Norwegian.

Watching the film now I am aware of so much more and can really appreciate how well it has been crafted and acted. Like a painting it many layers. Each viewing reveals more and more details none of which are singularly important but together make a beautifully told story into a film that is a work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us with an impressive pedigree. Director Tomas Alfredson previously directed a critically, and publicly acclaimed vampire movie Let the Right One In, a foreign language movie, which has now been remade into Let Me In starring Chloe Moretz. If you don't mind subtitles I highly recommend it, and the remake which is also very good.

Colin Firth won the Oscar last year. Gary Oldman, just got nominated for an Oscar for this role. Mark Strong gave a great performance in The Guard, and Ciaran Hinds seem to specialise in plyaing in playing spies, as in The Debt, and Munich.

Like many people I have neither read the book, nor seen the series starring Alec Guinness, so if you have not seen it before my experience of watching it fresh might be a good indicator.

I probably would not have seen it if I did not accidentally meet someone in the movie business, who had seen Gary Oldman and the director do a presentation at their campus.

When asked how he would like playing a stoic character, as opposed to his often passionate characters, he said he had waited thirty years to play a role like this, that often actors don't get to pick and choose their parts, but take what is offered and to put food on the table, and hope one day...

As the movie begins, we become aware of a 'mole' at the circus, and an agent played by Mark Strong is sent to Hungary for a secret meeting to discover who it is. When complications arise retired agent, the stoic George Smiley played by Gary Oldman is brought out of unscheduled retirement to find out who it is. This is one of those movies that is like a game of chess, complete with chess symbolism, and we have to read between the lines both of what is happening, and the lines of Smiley's face to gauge what is going on beneath that stoic exterior.

We learn that he has a wife we never see, but is cheating on him, and we anticipate a break in that stoic exterior, so as a study of character acting by Oldman this is a wonder to behold. In a way this movie sets out to be deliberately dull, somewhat the antithesis of the impression you get from a Bond movie, these men are bureaucrats, they ironically sing the Russian national anthem at office parties, not much seems to happen, then the action livens up with an intrigue, betrayal and occasional murder.

When the finger of suspicion points different ways, the 'circus' people suspected get very nervous, knowing full well what the outcome of that suspicion will be.

As I sat very close to the screen, close enough to see the dots, I noticed the rather grainy footage like the detail of movies set in that era, the 70s. While I enjoyed it overall, this is definitely a more cerebral movie than say Bond, in fact it reminded me somewhat of The Good Shepherd, a movie I love, starring Matt Damon but which has gained mixed reviews. I think they were expecting The Bourne identity, instead of backroom antics at the CIA.

Several people around me left the movie early on, did not give it a chance, a yuppie sitting next to me, clearly on an early date, started immediately checking his iphone for other movie showings, was annoying, and thankfully they left shortly after to see a different movie. So this is not a date movie.

I would say that I did not understand everything, some detail was lost I think in reducing this to a two hour movie. For instance, he gets a lighter from Magda,which seems important, who I assume was either a woman but apparently was not. From an acting viewpoint, everybody gives a strong perofrmance, from a directing viewpoint, if you're like me you probably want more action, then it would not be what it is.

I am now curious to check out the original with Alec Guinness. I think if you are a fan of Gary Oldman and/or Le Carre's original story will love it, and a varied response among other people. The movie also got nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay.

I hope this was helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2012
This is one of the best book adaptations, period pieces, and spy films I have ever seen. Gary Oldman's genius, quiet central performance is captivating, and the supporting actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy (among others) are as fantastic. This is a film that shows exactly how pacing is important. It's a talking, thinking film, not an action film. So if you have an aversion to great dramatic performances, please return to your Michael Bay movies and let the rest of us enjoy the absolute gems like this that only come once every few years.
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on January 22, 2015
The way this movie was edited an cut was All over the dam place, Tom Hardy” had more
to say than Colin Firth” Benedict Cumberbatch” was just walking around with not much to
say as well, how could you not use these people to there fullest potential, first off the movie
was too short, you need way more time for a movie like, the one with Alec Guinness” is 324 Min.
but I know that can’t be done for a theater movie, another half-hour of some intrigue would be nice
the only one that shine here is Gary Oldman” an Mark Strong” was good as well, I’ve seen some
better ones done by the British, that has way more drama an intrigue than this, even if he had added
some of his own pieces to it I wouldn’t of cared to much, just a touch of his own spy world would be good,
it is not all that bad, you know like the umbrella with the blade attach, in the back street of the night
where all businesses go unnoticed,
Runtime 128 Min.
Widescreen 2.35:1 1080p High Definition,
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
I’ll Still Give Four Stars.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2012
The original video version of this John Lecarre book was made in the UK. Sir Alec Guiness played Smiley and did so with such depth that Lecarre once observed that Smiley belong to Guiness and no longer to Lecarre. However, given the cast of this version, I approached it with enthusiasm hoping for a new look at this complex character in a complex story. I was deeply disappointed. The story came across as fragmented, poorly developed and lacked a cohesion with the book. This movie fails on many levels - character development; scenes are often dark and uninspiring but not adding to the story; lack of story flow. Buy the earlier British production - it is much more enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2013
The movie jumped all over the place, because they aged actors looked the same in the present as they did in the past it was hard to follow the sequence of events. Succeded to watch the movie from beggining to end, without falling asleep, on my fourth attempt. The Kings Speech was more enteraining to watch!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 23, 2013
No James Bond glamour or special effects here. This is a movie with a feel of reality. Gritty, well acted and well directed. Oldman deserves the praise he has received but he is not the only actor turning in a top notch performance. Could be "Masterpiece Theatre".
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