When it comes to thrillers, no one writes them better than John Le Carré and it is not hard to see why so many of his books have been adapted for the big screen.
Another Le Carré adaptation is heading our way this week as Our Kind of Traitor - which stars Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Damian Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård - is set to hit the big screen.
To celebrate the release of the movie this Friday, we take a look back at some of our favourite Le Carré adaptations.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
For me, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was one of the best movies of 2011 and one of the best Le Carré adaptations. While the book had been adapted into a mini-series back in 1979, this was the first time that we have seen it on the big screen.
The movie was directed by Tomas Alfredson, who had brought us the fantastic Let the Right One In back in 2008, and saw Gary Oldman in the central role of George Smiley. John Hurt, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, and Ciaran Hinds completed the fantastic and talented cast list.
Set in the bleak days of the Cold War, the movie follows espionage veteran George Smiley who is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons. The movie is packed with twists and turns and you never know who can be trusted.
From the opening scene to the closing credits, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a riveting and totally absorbing watch. This truly is a wonderful adaptation of a great book and Alfredson builds the tension with every scene and makes sure that there is uncertainty and mistrust around every corner.
Oldman is fantastic as Smiley as he delivers an understated and controlled performance; which lead to his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of the best political thrillers of recent years and more than lived up to all of the hype that surrounded it before release.
The movie went on to be both a critical and commercial success and, for me, it is one of the best onscreen realisations of a Le Carré novel. If you are a fan of this writer, then Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not to be missed.
- The Constant Gardener (2005)
Hard to believe, but it is over a decade since The Constant Gardener hit the big screen - yes, it really was back in 2005. It was based on the 2001 book of the same name and saw Fernando Meirelles in the director's chair.
Meirelles had made a name for himself three years earlier with the release of City of God and this was his first feature film since that huge success. It was another triumph for the filmmaker as The Constant Gardener was a political thriller of the highest order.
The movie saw Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz team up to take on the central roles of Justin and Tessa Quayle. The movie follows Justin as he gets pulled into a world of big business and corporate corruption as he tries to solve his wife's murder.
With The Constant Gardener, Meirelles has delivered gripping, intelligent and intense drama that is driven by the fantastic central performances from Fiennes and Weisz. Weisz is only in a tiny part of the film and yet, her shadow looms over the whole movie and it was no surprise to see her win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Fiennes is also wonderful as he gives a subtle performance as an unassuming hero - it really is one of the finest performances of his career. He wonderfully manages to show his character's inner turmoil and anxiety and you are rooting for him to succeed and get to the truth.
The movie went on to be nominated for four Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Supporting Actress (Weisz). Weisz would be the only one who would triumph on the night.
- A Most Wanted Man (2014)
A Most Wanted Man is the most recent Le Carré to be adapted for the big screen and was released just two years ago.
A Most Wanted Man marked the return of the fantastic Anton Corbijn - who had brought us Control - to the director's chair for only the third feature film of his career.
When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity - oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist?
Philip Seymour Hoffman took on the central role of Günther Bachmann and was joined on the cast list by Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, and Daniel Bruhl.
A Most Wanted Man was one of the best thriller movies of 2014. It was a movie that I had really been looking forward to and it was one that really did not disappoint.
This is a smart and suspense filled movie that really does keep us guessing right until the very end. The cast is fantastic but it is Phillip Seymour Hoffman who really does steal the show. He delivers a powerful and very visceral performance in what was to be his final appearance on the big screen.
A Most Wanted Man is a hugely absorbing movie that went on to play well on the festival circuit and was a critical hit upon release.
- The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1966)
One of the early Le Carré adaptations came back in 1966 when The Spy Who Came In From The Cold was adapted for the big screen. The movie was based on the book of the same name, which had been released on three years earlier.
Martin Ritt was in the director's chair for the film while Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner took on the central roles of Alec Leamas, Nan Perry, and Fiedler.
The movie follows British agent Alec Leamas (Burton) who refuses to come in from the cold war during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is a great espionage thriller that really does capture the political complexity of that time in very recent history. The movie is packed with great twists and turns as well as some truly fascinating characters.
Burton delivers one of the best performances of his career as Leamas; a burnt-out spy who is struggling to keep hold of his humanity after everything that he has seen and done.
While the rest of the cast are terrific, it is Burton who really drives this film forward and draws the audience in. He went on to pick up a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his terrific work.
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold really is a great political thriller and it is surprising that it has not yet been earmarked to be remade.
Other John Le Carré adaptations not to miss include The Russian House, The Tailor of Panama and The Deadly Affair. The recent TV series The Night Manager is also well worth a watch.
Our Kind of Traitor is released 13th May.
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