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'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' movie review, trailer: No stirred martinis here

Jones and Hurt are also particularly fine in their portrayals, and they make the best use of the high-minded script. There’s a real feeling that these spies are the real deal, men tasked with fighting a war of wills and deceptions, rather than bullets and bombs.

Tom Hardy turns up as Ricki Tarr, one of many ancillary figures with quite a few beans to spill. The role is necessary, but it also shows the limitations of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” We become so involved in understanding this central unit of the MI6 that outsiders become distractions (and complicate matters further). That’s one of the drawbacks of having such fine company among the leading cast; intrusions are unwelcome.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” will have its fans and its detractors. It’s not a run-of-the-mill story that features understandable plot points. It’s as complex as what it must have been like to tell secrets in the early 1970s. We’re allowed to listen in on some conversations, but not all. This gives us unprecedented access, and also leaves us yearning to know more.

  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • 2011
  • Directed by Tomas Alfredson
  • Written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan; based on the novel by John le Carré
  • Starring Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds and Mark Strong
  • Running time: 127 minutes
  • Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language
  • Four stars
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