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'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

December 14, 2011 |  4:30 pm

GetprevSometimes there is a wonderful madness in the method, and so it is with the superb thrill of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," starring Gary Oldman.

Adapted from the dense counter-intelligence maze created by novelist John le Carre, the film begins with the discovery that there is a mole inside the British central intelligence agency, but unearthing him will come virtually devoid of the usual pyrotechnics. Instead, suspense builds like a low-grade fever just waiting to spike and do you in.

To solve a double-agent mystery, sometimes it helps to be on the outside, though Oldman’s top spy George Smiley isn’t really given a choice, unceremoniously ousted as he is in a mini-coup that also took out agency director Control, a terrific John Hurt.

Even better, director Tomas Alfredson understands the power of understatement for his lead actor. The quiet voice, a sideways glance, a raised brow: With those as his weapons of choice, Oldman creates a slow squeeze that proves deliciously deadly.



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A ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ sequel: How likely is it?

-– Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo caption: Gary Oldman as agent George Smiley in the spy thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Credit: Jack English


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