Iffy for 16+
Excellent spy film mixes suspense and shocking moments.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (adapted from a classic John le Carre spy novel) is an intelligent, adult movie. Violence isn't constant but includes guns and shooting, dead bodies, blood and gore, and violence against women (a mother is killed while nursing her baby, and another woman's head is beaten against a window). Language is also infrequent but includes a few uses of "f--k." There's also some nudity and onscreen sex (toplessness, a woman shown from behind while atop a man, etc.), plus some innuendo. Since the story is set in the early 1970s, characters smoke cigarettes freely and drink casually. For grown-ups and mature teens, this is a terrific film, arguably one of the best spy movies ever made.
- Families can talk about Tinker Tailor Solder Spy's violent moments. How shocking are the shootings and gore? Do they have greater impact because they're used sparingly?
- Does the movie seem especially violent in regard to women? What message does that send?
- Is the movie suspenseful? How does it achieve suspense with such a slow pace and so few action scenes? Does a good spy movie need a lot of action?
- Is George Smiley a good role model? What are his main attributes? What are his faults?
The good stuff
Messages: Amid the often-violent spy activities, the movie includes problem solving and ethical choice-making. Good, wise characters with plenty of common sense stand up to shady characters who would use fear to increase their own power.
Role models: George Smiley isn't a spy like James Bond: He's gentle, reserved, and thoughtful. He plans carefully but is brave enough to take risks when necessary. But he does live a fairly solitary existence and doesn't often open up to others.
What to watch for
Violence: Throat-slashing and dead bodies, with strong blood and gore in a few scenes. A mother is killed while nursing her baby. A man beats a woman's head against a window. Some guns and shooting, but not as much as in many other spy movies. A man kills a bird that's entered a room through a fireplace.
Sex: A couple is seen having sex in bed, from a distance; the woman is on top and is shown from behind. A man is seen almost naked. A topless woman appears at a club. A young couple passionately makes out on a couch. Other kissing, moaning, and fondling. There's a hint of an extramarital affair. Some sexual innuendo; male characters size up a pretty new office worker.
Language: Language is relatively infrequent but includes a few uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "prick," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "Christ," and "God" (as exclamations).
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Most of the characters -- except the hero -- smoke cigarettes and drink casually throughout (the story is set in the early 1970s). They drink a bit extra during a Christmas party sequence.
Fan Reviews provided by
Walked out of this movie by reasonedreviewer
Wow - what an unsatisfying, disappointment of a movie. Was really looking forward to seeing Gary Oldman - it would have been nice if he spoke sometime in the first 20 minutes of the movie, rather than looking furtively at the good guys, or maybe the bad guys - couldn't tell one from the other, and really didn't care. I have walked out on exactly one movie in my life, and thanks to Tinker Tailor, my tally is now two. What a relief to leave the theater. My only regrets are: 1) not leaving sooner, and 2) not yelling, "does anyone in the theater know, or care, what is going on here?"
I have heard that if you have read the book, the movie is really good - I guess it's unfortunate I haven't read the book - and now I have no interest. Can someone please let me know how I can get an hour of my life back?
Tinker Tailor by lindarein
Manages to distill an enormously detailed and often confusing story into a two-hour movie that keeps moving while maintaining a seemingly leisurely pace. So much is told by the remarkable images; there is very little dialogue. This is a mature and memorable performance from Gary Oldman, and the supporting cast is perhaps the best ensemble in a drama this year, with special mention to the great and glorious John Hurt. LeCarre's spy story may seem dull and ordinary to those who didn't live through the Cold War, but for those of us who did, it provides a kind of reassuring nostalgia. Maybe if we got through all of that, we can get through all of this.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by jplazareck
Gripping cerebral mystery about the search for a traitor in British intelligence during the Cold War. I was fully engaged by the story and the acting, though some of my friends found it hard to follow.
Tinker Tailor What's Going On? by apfau
We're usually not idiots when it comes to following thrillers, but we had no idea what was going on in this movie. We didn't find it suspenseful or thrilling, just slow and confusing. Didn't like it at all.
Lost and Bored by rob808pf
I'll start by saying I've read spy novels and like Cold War history, but this movie was a total dud. I was lost for at least the first 20 minutes and bored for the 95% of the movie. The movie went nowhere and did it painfully slowly. I've never looked at my watch so many times in a theater before.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY by dottieb01
Slow, confusing, dull, pretentious in its forced and aritificial austerity. Not nearly as interesting or compelling as the miniseries or even the Le Carre book upon which it is based. Actually a real disappointment. Nothing much to like about it.
Watching the time go by by dasindonna
Although the acting was excellent, the movie was slow moving. I don't particularly like his novels and now I can add movie adaptions of his books to the list.
A disappointment by lisatshep
I felt very let down by this film. It rarely caught my interest and failed to keep it for long, and I never felt more than apathy towards any of the characters, as wonderful as the main actors all are. I'm probably more tolerant than most of slow-paced movies that require sustained attention to appreciate them, but this film was beyond my ability to understand and enjoy. I'll have to read the book to find out what was lacking in the film script for the plot to make sense.
Tinker, Tailor by cparker545
If the actors were paid for each spoken word they would be broke. The acting was far better than the screen writing. Had to fight a tendancy to doze off.
fabulous for the thinking viewer by masmommy
I remember seeing this on tv ages ago and it was dark and dreary, hard to hear the characters and could not follow it. Thank goodness it is now a movie. It is definitely a movie you really must watch. No checking out the bathrooms or candy stand because you WILL miss important clues. It really gets you to understand quite quickly how difficult the whole spy thing was back then. No pcs. All human. Lots of paper trails and such. Time went by and then it was over. Cannot wait for the sequel. A 10 out of 10!