Neil Fox on film (15.09.11)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The release of the week is also one of the releases of the year, as the director of the acclaimed Let The Right One In follows up that debut with a stunning adaptation of the classic John Le Carre novel.

The film also sees a return to leading man duties for Gary Oldman, and not before time.

Older, but getting better with age, he is rightly being talked up for awards in the offing for his portrayal of George Smiley.

Smiley is a semi-retired MI6 operative persuaded back into harness to uncover a Russian mole within the ranks.

The story is a classic spy tale, cross and double cross, espionage and mystery, and in the middle of it all is Oldman’s Smiley.

What is so impressive is the way director Tomas Alfredson handles the whole thing.

While plot is necessarily condensed given the time constraints of the movie format compared to the slow-burn TV series starring Alec Guinness, he perfectly captures the spirit, tone and atmosphere of Le Carre’s literary masterwork.

And that’s saying a lot, because at heart, it’s an actor’s dream and the supreme cast clearly loved the chance to get into such a great script. A proper, old fashioned film made by a modern, gifted filmmaker.

The Change-Up

Back in the 80s, when Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was serialised on TV, body swap films were all the rage.

Alas, only one of those genres has made a welcome return, and it’s certainly not this buddy swap ‘comedy’.

It stars the wonderful Jason Bateman and the wooden Ryan Reynolds as best friends with polarised lives who somehow, for some reason, wish they could swap places.

So Bateman’s stressed and unhappy family man swaps with Reynolds’ freewheeling bachelor. They have problems galore, and so do I.

The idea that these men are still best friends is unconvincing, it’s a shallow ‘grass is greener’ scenario, it’s weak and lazy. Oh, and it’s not funny.

30 Minutes Or Less

Another not that funny comedy is this first post Social Network role for Jesse Eisenberg – and it’s a disappointment, because it’s a silly, high concept idea that could be really funny, but they forgot to put jokes in.

Eisenberg is a pizza delivery guy kidnapped by criminals who strap a bomb to him and order him to rob a bank or else.

But it’s badly delivered, veering on inappropriate at times and a waste of Eisenberg’s talent, and the numerous famous faces that make their way across the screen at various times.