Friday, January 20, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John le Carré's spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes to the big screen in the 2011 release.  The story is set in 1973 at the height of the Cold War. The aptly named Control (played by John Hurt),  head of British Intelligence (MI6), sends agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to meet a  general who wishes to sell information about a double agent at the highest level of MI6 (the "Circus").  The operation is a disaster and Prideaux is shot.  The failure allows the Circus to force Control and his right hand man, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), into retirement.  Control dies soon after he leaves and, Smiley faces an uneasy future without his wife who has left him.

A new group takes control of the Circus headed by Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), with Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) as his deputy and Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) as part of the inner circle.  The basis of their success is due to apparently high-grade Soviet intelligence gathered under a program named "Witchcraft." "Witchcraft" provides an opportunity for the British Intelligence Service to gain access to US intelligence.

Smiley is brought out of retirement by Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney), the British official in charge of overseeing the Circus, to investigate new information about a molein a senior role in British Intelligence.  Lacon has received information from agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) confirming the suspicions of Smiley's old boss concerning a double agent. 

Smiley assembles a team to investigate the accusations.  When Smiley visits Control's home he discovers chess pieces with Control had codenamed the suspects "Tinker" (Alleline), "Tailor" (Haydon), "Soldier" (Bland), "Poorman" (Esterhase) and "Beggarman" (Smiley himself).

From this beginning the le Carré drama moves through a devious web of concealment to find the double agent. 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is true to the espionage genre.  It is a methodical search for a traitor who has dishonored his country and friends.   The slow pace of the movie may put some people off who are used to the fast-paced Mission Impossible series (see review of Ghost Protocol).  Gary Oldman is excellent in the role of George Smiley and could garner an Academy Award nominination.  The film and Mr. Oldman have been nominated for British film awards.  The supporting cast of British actors completes the ensemble cast.

I rank the movie

Please see the following links to John le Carré's books and films:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

The Mission Impossible team has done it again.  I'm referring to Tom Cruise and his team not Ethan Hunt and IMF team.  In the latest installment of the Mission Impossible series, Ethan Hunt and his team are racing against time to stop a terrorist named Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist of The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo series), who is planning to begin a nuclear war.  Hendricks believes such a nuclear holocaust will be the cleansing that the earth needs.  To carry out his insane scheme, he hired Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux) to steal the Russian nuclear launch codes.  The IMF team of Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and smoking-hot Jane Carter (Paula Patton) try to break into the Kremlin to steal information on Hendricks. They are a step too late and Hendricks steals the files and detonates an explosion in the Kremlin. The Russians believe the US was responsible and the IMF is selected to be the rogue operation responsible.  The President is forced to invoke Ghost Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or backup.  Hunt's team is joined by "analyst" William Brandt (Jeremy Renner).  The fast-paced adventure takes us to Dubai and where the team tries to retrieve the codes.  Hendricks escapes with the codes and the team pursues him to Mumbai where he links up with a satellite to launch a missile at the US.  The action is non-stop with amazing stunts by Hunt as he scales the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  The film features two locations where I have traveled on business --- Dubai and Mumbai --- which added to my enjoyment.  Visit the official site for more information and previews.

This film is rated a

Your assignment, should you accept it, is to see this  latest  installment in the series.