If your idea of a good spy thriller involves entertainingly cartoonish, clearly identifiable good and bad guys shooting, car-chasing and blowing each other up, you might want to skip this unapologetically slow-paced tale from John Le Carré via Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). On the other hand, if you’re willing to forget Bond and Bourne, pay attention, and consider yourself a thinking grownup, this smart film will demonstrate to you that a movie doesn’t have to be purposelessly kinetic to be thrilling. In a nutshell, Cold War British agent George Smiley is unofficially recalled from forced retirement to work from the outside to identify a highly placed and very damaging Soviet mole. Veteran actor Gary Oldman, whose flawless performance earned him an Oscar nomination (amazingly only his first!), absolutely nails the cerebral, antisocial and notably unsmiling Smiley. Supporting roles are ably filled by Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch. And extra kudos to the screenwriters for their meaty, cagey distillation of Carré’s dense narrative into a watchable two-hour film. (A 1979 mini-series starring Alec Guinness ran six hours.) I may see it again.
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