First Hit: For a film labeled “Thriller”, I was not thrilled.
This very plodding overly complex with missing parts rendition of the John le Carre classic novel was, in essence slow to a fault.
However, the period photography, by graining up the film, was excellent.
This movie starts with a killing which takes place during the 15 minute long opening credits. It does set the tone for the film but the tone is that this is going to be a plodding pragmatic film. There wasn’t one person (character) to care about during the whole thing.
I recall reading the book and finding it engaging but that was mostly because le Carre created something to care about. Here director Tomas Alfredson moves this thing along at the same confusing pace all the way through.
The gaps in the scenes were too large to enjoy putting the film puzzle together. It was at times as if I had to start all over again with each new segment, hold that piece and place it with another piece that might come later or came sometime before this scene. It was too much work for the payoff.
It was generally a flat plane of existence as were the performances by everyone. The stoic faces were suppose to engender intelligence and thought; but for me it only provoked boredom. What was worse was that they kept discussing how this mole was working at the highest places of British Intelligence.
However the mole didn’t seem to be causing much damage. It seem more about saving face (British face).
John Hurt as Control was the most dynamic of all the actors. His tired eyes said something. Gary Oldman as George Smiley (the point of the film) was so reserved that I wanted to reach out and way wake up! This, combined with his being a mindful pragmatic intelligence officer brought out of retirement to find the “spy” was almost unbelievable. Percy Alleline (played by Toby Jones) was one of the more amusing characters as he seemed to suffer from ego issues of being short and being seen. Colin Firth as Bill Haydon (the spy) didn’t do much spying in this film, obviously by design, but it seem hard to find out what he actually gave the Russians that were pissing the British off so much. Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan wrote this script which followed the lines of the book while Alfredson directed this in a cold (war) plodding way.
Overall: Thrilled? No and for my money there was too much thinking and piecing together required to make this film interesting and fulfilling.