Today I saw an early show of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which may be the crowning achievement of this year’s Hollywood theme – a bunch of movies that receive critical praise and do next to nothing. The previews for this film said it was “based on the novel that re-imagined the spy thriller genre.” Probably because if the book was anything like the movie, no one ever envisioned a spy thriller being so old, dreary and boring.
I can appreciate an understated film, but over the last few years my favorite movies have been Munich, District 9, The Dark Knight, Eastern Promises, Inception, the Social Network, etc. I like movies that are well made, but can actually entertain as well. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has an all star cast and has received rave reviews so I sat with extra diligence so as to not be caught off guard by any subtle cinematic brilliance. My diligence was rewarded with two (or was it four) hours of water boiling. The movie is so boring they might as well double feature it with Hugo and call it “Now you can euthanize the whole family with this coma-inducing, boring double feature.”
The plot of the movie is about how a recently, forced into-retirement spy played by Gary Oldman has to find a Russian mole in the upper ranks of British intelligence. A couple of dead bodies show up, but nothing, not camera work, not score, not acting can save this from being what it is: an incredibly boring movie. They took spy work and espionage and gave it the pace of an early 90s Merchant Ivory film. I kept expecting to see Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins sneaking furtive glances at each other.
Hollywood seems to have made a clear divide this year – either you can be entertaining and pretty mediocre or it can be extremely well made and completely useless. Like going to a bar that only serves $1,000 bottles of wine and Four Loco.
By the end of the movie, which I assume since it was a spy thriller was supposed to have some mystery element to it, you learn who the spy was and I was amazed at how little I actually cared. I was not surprised, but I had not predicted it either. It just was. Perhaps in our current era of massive self-absorption and trite sensibilities we crave to have things that are serious. And TTSS delivers that. It just doesn’t deliver anything else.
Final Grades – For Film-Making – B+, For Entertainment Value – D+