There’s a mole at the Circus, and ‘C’ (John Hurt) is worried. Who can blame him? Punters want to see elephants and lions.
But I jest: ‘C’ is Britain’s spy boss in the 1970s, and his organisation has been penetrated so deeply by the Russians that a joke about Moscow prostitutes is almost compulsory at this point. Before ‘C’ can act, he’s given the boot along with his confidante, George Smiley (Gary Oldman, but channelling Alec Guinness). Then ‘C’ drops dead. Then a government minister gets confirmation of the mole and brings back Smiley – imperturbable, inexorable, and wearing new glasses – to investigate.
It’s all very watchable but, like Smiley, moves slowly. He’s too cold and expressionless to make an engaging protagonist, and he doesn’t have much to lose by not finding the double agent, so there isn’t much tension. And by the way, the 1970s weren’t really that brown. 7/10
Released January 25, 2012.