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The 7 Best Movies Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Who doesn’t love a good espionage thriller? Released back in 2011, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s Cold War-set Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy quickly established itself as one of the very best of the genre. Boasting a killer cast of Britain’s top leading men, a dense, riveting screenplay adapted from a John le Carré novel filled with intrigue and depth, and a virtuosic sense of pacing and narrative control, this movie really epitomizes sophisticated espionage thrillers.

If you’re looking for more of the same, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Check out these 7 movies like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

1. Ronin

Kicking things off, we have John Frankenheimer’s spy-heist epic, Ronin. Like the best of the genre, this movie keeps you guessing throughout whether the nature of what—or who—you’re seeing on screen is truly all that it—or they—really purport to be.

For fans of the genre who relish in its more frenetic, high-wire aspects like gunfights, car-chases, etc., it’s here in spades. But much like Tinker Tailor’s Cold War context, there’s also a strong but subtle socio-political undertone to the film that gives it its heft and makes for a truly impressive voilà moment at the end.

2. Spy Game

Second on our list, we have Tony Scott’s ultra-suave action-spy-thriller, Spy Game. One of the best action movie directors in history was firmly in his groove when he took on this flashback heavy, race-against-the-clock espionage thriller starring two icons of their respective generations, Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. 

If you are a fan of the trope of the master-spy who is just about to retire (or in the case of Tinker Tailor, already has retired) but then finds himself compelled to return out of moral obligation or unfinished business, then this one is for you. To boot, it’s an impeccably crafted action movie with a chemistry between its two leads that is so strong and magnetic it could override any electrical circuit.  

3. The Good Shepherd

Next up, we have Robert De Niro’s second outing as director, a semi-fictionalized take on the beginnings of the CIA, The Good Shepherd. Focusing on Matt Damon’s Edward Wilson, and spanning over decades and locales, this film takes a hard look at the agency and the men who went on to form it, revealing the details and human flaws of what has become such a mythical institution.

If you’re into spy films like this and Tinker Tailor that are not too preoccupied with the more extravagant or action-heavy set-pieces commonly found in the genre and are more concerned with debunking the mystique of the shadowy world of spies and counterintelligence officers, then look no further. 

4. The Lives of Others

Coming in fourth on our list, we have Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Oscar-winning, brooding Cold War surveillance-drama, The Lives of Others. This film out of Germany is a complex moral tale that involves a spy for East Germany’s communist regime slowly renouncing his ties to the state as he spies on a dissenting playwright and his wife.

If you loved the bleak atmosphere and chilly aesthetic of Cold War-era London in Tinker Tailor, along with the focus on a more authentic, deglamorized depiction of spies at work, then we highly recommend this one.  

5. Breach

Next on our list, Hollywood screenwriter-extraordinaire Billy Ray returned to the director’s chair with this thrilling, true-to-life story about a high-ranking FBI officer accused of spying for Russia. This is a taut, suspenseful story told from the perspective of an underdog trying to take down an intellectually superior and formidable double-agent.

Just as with Tinker Tailor, this one is perfect for those of you who are into procedurals of spies and intelligence officers doing their best to take down or expose a member of their own rank suspected of being a mole. 

6. A Most Wanted Man

Danish director Anton Corbijn’s timely, darkly engrossing spy thriller is next on our list. Sadly, this was the last leading role of Philip Seymour Hoffman before his death in early 2014. His portrayal of a disgruntled leader of a ring of spies hunting Islamist extremists in Hamburg is one of the finest of his storied career and a true testament to his range and capacities as an actor. 

It’s hard to overcome the legacy of being the film with the last leading role of such an iconic figure gone too soon, but this film serves as an exceptional swansong. Its final sting operation—reminiscent of the one that takes place toward the end of Tinker Tailor—is so expertly paced and crafted, you might find yourself inadvertently holding your breath. 

7. Bridge of Spies

The final spot on our list goes to Steven Spielberg’s Cold War legal-drama epic Bridge of Spies. Scripted by British writer Matt Charman, along with help from none other than the Coen Brothers, this film explores in great detail the real-life negotiation between the U.S. and Soviet Union who agreed to exchange prisoners belonging to one another at the height of the Cold War.

Fans of both legal-dramas and spy films will be delighted by this one. If you were taken away by the procedural nature of Tinker Tailor, the in-depth, extremely poured-over details of its composite elements and characters, along with the chess-match stratagems of the central conflict, then this one is a do not miss.  

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