Viewed – 03 February 2012 Blu-ray
In the run up to the awards season, this has become one of the most talked about movies around. With a heavy weight cast of top British thesps and a gritty cold war storyline, this is the movie many people are putting all their hopes in. Call it this years The King’s Speech, if you like. Adapted from the novel by John LeCarré … Gary Oldman stars as a former M16 agent who is persuaded by an old friend to come out of retirement in order to investigate the possibility of a Russian mole in the organization. The movie jumps back and forth between time lines and shows us the history behind such suspicion after former boss John Hurt sends field agent Mark Strong to Budapest in hope if discovering the identity of the mole from a Russian contact. In the present, Oldman must piece the clues together and line up the suspects, whilst uncovering a wealth of shady dealings.
For such a talked about movie, I admit to finding it extremely difficult to follow. It is told in such a vague and scatter shot way, that I kept hoping for a narration to fill me in on who is who and what’s what. But no, this is the sort of movie where you the viewer are left pretty much in the dark, and everyone on-screen seems much more well-informed. Sometimes people would say things and the other person would look shocked, whilst I would respond with ‘huh?’. I don’t know. Other movies have played the trick of showing you something, making you believe its one way, then later revealing it wasn’t quite what you thought. That can be cool, but here it was simply frustrating. Gary Oldman is very good as the veteran MI6 agent ‘Smiley’ but doesn’t ever really have a moment to stand out, neither does John Hurt, who apart from an acceptable performance, is barely in it. I actually warmed much more to underrated actor Mark Strong, as I felt his story was the most intriguing, but like everything here, it never really delves enough to totally satisfy.
Tomas (Let The Right One In) Alfredson’s direction, on a technical level is sublime and very stylish. He makes the mostly London-set locations look gorgeous, and there’s no doubt he’s a genuine talent. However the material he has been given is confusing, a little too sure of itself and ultimately … boring. Really, when a movie can be summed up as two hours of stiff upper collar British chaps sitting in rooms looking confused, that can’t be good, can it?
Verdict: 2 /5