Blog Archives

…do or dye

The format of “Atomic Blonde” is familiar enough. We open in 1989 Berlin, right in the middle of the Cold War, and just barely ahead of the fall of the Wall…and smack dab on top of the premise of countless spy thrillers.

Cut to chase scene ending in a British operative being taken out. Cue the entrance of our leading lady MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), sent into the eye of the storm to recover the list which was lost in the opening scuffle. Read the rest of this entry



Transforming a beloved book series into a film is never an easy task. There will be haters who quote the book to you, pointing out each and every derivation from the original plot and story. The truth is that a movie is inherently different from a book and changes must be made in the transformation. You cannot please everyone. Sometimes you get an awkward disaster (cough…Twilight…cough), and sometimes you get The Lord of the Rings. Read the rest of this entry

…carry the flag

As we continue our journey towards The Avengers,” we take a step back in time.  A step back to the not so simpler times of WWII and Captain America.

Steve Rogers, a small, sickly but outrageously courageous kid, is a patriotic dream, risking everything to serve his country.

What red,white, and blue-blooded American doesn’t love this story?  It’s a story of patriotism, an underdog, mutant Nazi’s, and drug trials (courtesy of Tony Stark’s father).

The transformation of course is the stuff of gamma ray exposed super mutant dreams… seriously, the Hulk must really hate this guy.

Of course, although historically (in the comic book universe sense of the word) Captain America was first, be it was only last summer that Chris Evans exchanged the flaming unitard of the Human Torch for the star-spangled unitard of Captain America thus violating the unspoken rule of comic book acting: YOU CANNOT PLAY TWO SUPERHEROES WHO EXIST IN THE SAME COMIC BOOK UNIVERSE!!!

That’s right Marvel gods, you have been called out.  Johnny Storm and Steve Rogers can now never meet…until someone launches another franchise, of course.

But we the forgiving American audience that we are, will let this one slide.  Maybe it’s our patriotism, our understanding nature, the fact that most audience members didn’t even notice, or perhaps it’s because “Captain America: The First Avenger” was awesome.

Just don’t do it again Marvel.



Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy  a film directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on John le Carré’s 1974 British spy novel, is a welcome reminder of what suspense is capable of–what it can do to us and what it can do for us.

First, our setting:

  • England in the midst of the Cold War.  The head of MI6, Control (John Hurt), believes there is a Soviet mole at the top of his agency.

[Interesting side-note:  John le  Carré, who is actually David Cornwell, wrote this based on his actual experiences in MI5 and MI6 in the 50’s and 60’s…back to the story]

Next, our suspects:

  • Tinker–Percy Alleline (Toby Jones)
  • Tailor–Bill Haydon (Colin Firth)
  • Soldier–Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds)
  • Poor Man–Toby Esterhase (David Dencik)
  • Beggarman–George Smiley (Gary Oldman)

Finally, our story:  After a bloody incident in Budapest involving the public death of operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), Control and Smiley are forced into early retirements.

A year later, after the death of Control, suspicions of a mole within resurface with a phone call from rogue operative Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy).   Smiley is covertly called in to investigate and with the help of one insider, Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), he dives back into a world of secrets, deception, and expertly crafted stories.

It’s a story of vigilance, persistence, and patience, and it is told completely out of order.  Questions are presented, abandoned, and then answered at a later point.  It’s almost as though they’re making sure you’re paying as close attention as Smiley is…as you should be.

Details are slowly discovered and what starts out as a seemingly singular event completely without context becomes a detailed and intricately woven plot.

At the center of it all is Smiley, a man apparently untouched by time.  As the plot jumps back and forth through time and space, he remains nearly the same (aside from his awesome and “awesomer” specs).  He sits, he watches, he listens, he notices.

As Smiley, Gary Oldman is stoicism incarnate.  He is unflinching, steadfast, solemn and  completely mesmerizing.  He doesn’t say much, so when he speaks, you listen.  This my friends, is how to use silence.  In the midst of a world filled with backroom meetings, cigarette smoke, and a whole lot of drinking (seriously), Smiley is the picture of calm reflection…with plenty of drinking and smoking too.

In general this is a fairly quiet film.  There are no grand explosions, dangling from truly terrifying heights, no revelatory flashback sequences, no moment when everything finally comes together, and few things you’d expect from a modern spy movie.  The entire plot is a sequence of bringing everything together.  No one piece is more important than any other.

So how can this possibly be suspenseful?  After all, there no cliffs (literal or metaphorical), no grand finales, no tension ridden musical interludes.  It’s a mystery…and a darn good spy story.


p.s.  the Golden Globes are upon us…keep an eye out for 2WC coverage of the big day…and a congrats to the nominated Mr. Gary Oldman.