This might be an excellent movie; it certainly looks impressive. But I'm only a little less baffled now, after reading up on the storyline, than I was when I walked out of the theater. Suffice it to say that reviews by people who had already read the novel, or viewed the 7-part BBC series, regard the movie with great appreciation. Those who didn't already know the storyline range from appreciative-but-puzzled to frustrated-and-annoyed.
The central problem may be hinted at, above; a story that takes 400 pages in print, and five-plus hours on TV, is going to be cryptic at a smidge over two hours. It's a spy story, so cryptic is apropos, but give us a break: in addition to the intended mystery (who's the mole at the top of British intelligence?), there's a deluge of elements that are mysterious simply because too much is going by too fast. It's fun to puzzle out a movie mystery, but the game is playable only if you're able to gather and assemble the clues as they're dropped.
The story takes place in London, at the Secret Intelligence Service, a modern building ingeniously concealed in the spacious inner courtyard of a large but nondescript, block-square outer building. There are a lot of characters, nearly all white men in suits. The story opens with "Control," chief of the Service (called "the Circus," for its location at Cambridge Circus), sending one of their "scalphunters" (agents trained for dirty work) to Budapest to meet with a communist general who wants to defect. But things go disastrously wrong, and Control is forced to retire, as is his "right hand man," George Smiley.
However, a senior government official contacts Smiley (Gary Oldman) privately and asks him to investigate a choice bit of information: there is a double ...1
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
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