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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The spies who got left out in the cold. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Sucks the sexy out of spying. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The film employs a largely British cast that is perhaps the most impressive ensemble of any movie this year.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    It is one of the few films so visually absorbing, felicitous shot after shot, that its emotional coldness is noticed only at the end, when all the plot twists are unraveled in a solid piece of thinking-man's entertainment for upmarket thriller audiences.

    Read Full Review

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A puzzle of a highly rarefied order. At times it's enthrallingly clever and subtle; at others it's borderline incomprehensible.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    This version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy turns on the presence of Mr. Oldman, and he is an actor of great experience and accomplishment who has finally found a film that fully deserves him.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

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
  • message true1

    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.

  • rolemodels true2

    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 false4

    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 false4

    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 false4

    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 false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    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.