by Johnny Web (Uncle
Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
I found this movie highly competent, but
disappointing. It starts with a routine cold war
spy-movie premise (the mole is one of five senior guys
in British intelligence) and does very little with it.
It does absolutely nothing to subvert our expectations.
Yes, one of them is the mole, as expected, so there are
no surprises, and:
1. You don't really care
which one is guilty because you don't get to know them
at all. I didn't even really know which was which
except that they are played by five actors with
distinctly different physical presences. I suppose
each of them had a different field of expertise and/or
different departments working for them, but I don't
know what those might have been. I suppose that was
covered well in the book, but I never read the book,
so when one of them was identified as the culprit, I
found it anticlimactic. My reaction was "Yeah, I knew
that one of them had to be guilty, and I really don't
know one from another, so who cares which one? Flip a
coin and be done with it."
Tinker cannot be called a spy "thriller." It's a
cerebral film which makes the work of spying seem to
include no thrills at all. The work seems unsexy,
unphysical, and mechanical. The spymasters are
essentially corporate accountants going through the
field guys' receipts for discrepancies. You won't
mistake these guys for Jason Bourne. They smoke and
drink too much, and they have never seen the inside of a
gym. Because the film includes little action, the pace
seems even slower than it actually is, and the film is
almost utterly bereft of passion as well. So, you
wonder, if it isn't a visceral thriller, it is a complex
mystery? No. There are a few minor matters which are not
as they first seem, but I wouldn't call the film a
2. You don't get to match wits with the investigators
because the script is not designed that way. The
baddie doesn't betray himself in some way you might
pick up on. You're just supposed to watch the good
guys solve the mystery, not to try to solve it along
3. Some of the solution is provided by a deus ex
machina. A spy who was thought to have defected to the
Soviets was actually in deep cover. When he returned,
he basically delivered a monologue explaining the plot
of the movie to the investigators and to us. Frankly,
I'm glad he did, because I wasn't involved enough in
the humdrum events on screen to pay scrupulous
attention to the intricacies of the anfractuous plot.
Oh, yeah, there are positives. The film looks great. The
location shoots, especially in Budapest and on the
London rooftops, are exotic and evocative. The cast is
also first-rate, but is not used to full potential. The
great Gary Oldman plays a world-weary and completely
emotionless character who never breaks from a measured
monotone, and uses a single facial expression for every
scene, so the film wastes Oldman's gifts for complex
characterizations. Some people have discussed Oldman's
Oscar potential, but there surely must be five better
performances this year, because Oldman could have done
this role in his sleep.
And to be honest, he pretty much did.
Oh, as long as we're being honest, let's just cut to the
chase, shall we? Why try to gussy it up?
This film is just plain dull.
- There is some brief female toplessness in a
- An actor named Tomasz Kowalski, in a very
minor role, showed his butt and a brief flash of
If you are not familiar with our grading system, you
need to read the explanation,
because the grading is not linear. For example, by our
definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie.
There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive
system, this film is a:
A handsome, classy and dignified, but soporific film.
Critics loved it, audiences stayed away in droves. It is
really of no interest to anyone but fans of cold war spy