British acting talent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a fascinating look at the disenchanted world of espionage and treachery. Unglamorous but certainly not unexciting, the film is the anti-James Bond where gadgets and girls are replaced drab duds and anonymous office space, cool colours and muted emotions. Having been dismissed from the Intelligence Service, George Smiley (a superlative Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight,The Scarlet Letter) is brought back into the fold when former head of MI6, Control (John Hurt, Melancholia,Brighton Rock), asks him to smoke out a mole who’s leaking secrets to the Soviets. The suspects are all at the top level, collectively known as “The Circus”, and each of them is played by top-drawer British actors. Who is the guilty man? Take your pick from Toby Jones (My Week With Marilyn, Creation), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man), Ciaran Hinds (The Debt, There Will Be Blood), and David Dencik (the upcoming War Horse and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), who meet round a table every so often to exchange hard looks and nasty quips. The fifth suspect, of course, is Smiley himself. Preserving the murky atmosphere of mistrust and cynical insecurity of the novel, director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) impressively recreates early 1970’s London. The London shown here is a cold, damp-looking place, scrupulously shot by Alfredson in a restricted palette of subdued greys and browns. Aided by superb production design, a satisfyingly intelligent script, and a crack ensemble cast that also includes Mark Strong (The Guard, The Way Back) and younger actors such as Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception) and Benedict Cumberbatch (War Horse, The Whistleblower), Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not only a stunningly good old fashioned spy yarn, but a surefire classic.

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