Based on John le Carré’s classic novel, the film is a glorious failure of an adaptation that manages to fit in a lot in its two-hour running time but sacrifices key details and, as a result, a lot of power.
London, 1973, MI6 is in turmoil as its head, Control (John Hurt), is forced to resign after a botched operation to uncover a Soviet mole in the Circus, MI6’s headquarters in London. Also forced into retirement is Smiley (Gary Oldman) as a change in command begins to pursue a new vein of intelligence named “Witchcraft” which Control and Smiley felt too good to be true but the new men running the Circus, lead by Percy Alleline (Toby Jones) and Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) find priceless in buying American cooperation. Smiley is called back into action when Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy), an agent thought to have gone over to the Soviets contacts a government minister confirming Control’s suspicions that there is a double agent at the top of The Circus. With the help of Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley investigates his former colleagues and the events surrounding the operation.