TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
The Abridged Script
EXT. BUDAPEST - 1973
MARK STRONG is on a SPY MISSION and finds his CONTACT at a CAFE PATIO.
Huh, that's weird. That guy has two eye-shaped holes in his newspaper for some reason.
How thoroughly unremarkable. Now in a moment, I will tell you about the Russian mole you're searching for. Right after I send some semaphore signals to the kindly old lady in that upstairs window who is totally not an undercover Russian operative.
(stands, waves giant flags)
Ah, hello, gentlemen, here's your moles. Menus! Sorry everyone.
(sweating eight gallons per second)
Would you like to know the spy of the day? SOUP! Oh fuck, I'm blown!
(into concealed microphone)
Abort! ABORT!! SMERT SHPIONAM!!!
(chugs entire bottle of cyanide pills, dies)
Damn, my evasive manoeuvre of standing totally still didn't work. At least I'll die with classic British stoicism, though, not while running around frantically like some Yankee "Mission Impossible" asshole.
INT. 70'S INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (SIS) HQ
JOHN HURT has called a meeting of the SIS DIRECTORS.
I'm telling you, there's a Russian mole in the SIS.
Well since sending Mark Strong to investigate this possibility resulted in him getting shot by 25,000 Russian spies, that's clearly horseshit. You are old and crazy and must be removed from control of the SIS.
I won't let you fire me unless you also fire Gary Oldman!
I sure hope you were a better SIS Controller than you are a negotiator, or Britain is totally fucked.
GARY OLDMAN walks around STARING at things until finally JOHN HURT DIES just to try and get the plot started.
INT. ELSEWHERE IN LONDON
GARY meets with STUART GRAHAM, the MINISTER OF SECRET SPY STUFF.
After careful consultation with various branches of government, we realized that if we don't pursue John Hurt's crazy theory, there is no movie. So please look into it.
A team has been assembled for you. First off, we've brought in Benedict Cumberbatch because he's currently doing a BBC version of Sherlock Holmes that actually involves being all intellectual and subtle and shit, which should match this story perfectly. Next, there's some old guy. And, that's it.
Well, the country's safety is in your hands now. Good luck.
INT. JOHN HURT'S HOUSE
GARY and BENEDICT search around. Eventually GARY finds some CHESS PIECES with pictures taped on them.
Hmm, this is very highbrow and meaningful. All the top SIS officers are here, even you, Gary. I think we should make careful note of this, it must be important.
Then again, he's also taped pictures of the mailroom staff to this set of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
EXT. BACK AT GARY'S HOUSE
GARY reveals that he has cunningly WEDGED something into his FRONT DOORFRAME to see if anybody OPENED it while he was away. Since spies are trained to NOTICE SHIT, that something is an ENORMOUS TWO-BY-FOUR PLANK OF WOOD PAINTED NEON ORANGE AND COVERED IN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Finding it undisturbed, they ENTER.
So one of the SIS directors is a Russian mole. Well this should be easy, the villain always turns out to be the established, recognizable British actor.
Let's see then. Our suspects are Toby Jones ("Captain America", "Frost/Nixon"), Ciaran Hinds ("Munich", HBO's "Rome"), and Colin Firth ("The King's Speech", "Bridget Jones's Diary").
EXT. BRITISH PRIVATE SCHOOL
MARK STRONG arrives and begins TEACHING. He has a SLIGHT HUNCH what with him having been GUNNED DOWN IN THE STREET and all.
Oh come on. This is supposed to be some big high-stakes life-or-death spy thriller and the only significant character who's been killed off isn't dead after all?!? Talk about lame.
No, wait, look!
(violently smashes bird to death with ruler)
Way to maintain your cover as a regular schoolteacher, dude.
INT. A HOUSE IN LONDON WE HAVE NOT SEEN BEFORE
GARY visits KATHY BURKE, who is FEMALE.
Wow, there really are precious few of us female characters in this rather sprawling tale, what.
EXT. GARY'S HOUSE - LATER
GARY reaches his front door to find the GIANT TWO-BY-FOUR has FALLEN! Entering, he discovers TOM HARDY!
(dripping wet, with overturned bucket on head)
Damn your fancy spy tricks, Gary. I was hoping to sneak in undetected.
All right, I'll tell you everything. You know that officially, I was disavowed from the SIS for having a horrible blonde dye job. And indeed I do. But the REAL reason they turfed me was because I was tracking down the Russian mole.
I learned about the mole from a Russian girl, whose story I will now tell in great detail because she is vitally important to everything. She knows all kinds of secrets, including things about the Russian spymaster codenamed "Karla" who is EVEN MORE VERY VITALLY IMPORTANT.
Anyway, when I warned the SIS about the mole, I got framed for treason and I've been on the run ever since. But then I thought, if Commissioner Gordon and Blonde Sherlock can't help me, who can? So I came here.
All right then, Benevolent Cummerbund, you need to sneak into the SIS and steal a logbook to corroborate Tom Hardy's story.
Why not ask Stuart Graham to use his Ministerial clearance to get it, instead of risking me getting captured and shot as a traitor?
I like it better when I get to send Watson on ridiculous missions.
TOBY JONES meets up with some AMERICAN SPY PEOPLE.
Hello American spy people. I have some awesome Russian secrets to sell you.
How did you get them?
Me and the other SIS directors fed bullshit info to a Russian double agent, who gave us this totally legit 100% genuine intel in exchange.
How do you know the Russians aren't just feeding you bullshit back?
Because they are limpdick pooperheads and we are super awesome. You see, it's a brilliant plan.
Or it's the perfect opportunity for a Russian mole to triple-cross you and feed vats of critical intelligence to your enemies. But that's your problem, I guess. Why are you here again?
The Russians said if we threw in some genuine American secrets they would give us Ann-Margret's phone number. She was still hot in the 70's, right?
Go away now.
INT. GARY'S HOUSE - FLASHBACK
GARY OLDMAN arrives home to find COLIN FIRTH.
Oh, hello, Gary. Thought I'd drop by for a totally spontaneous visit while your wife was upstairs naked in bed all by herself. Oops, I have no shoes on. Or pants. Look, I brought you a cake.
(offers cake the top of which reads, "I AM FUCKING YOUR WIFE")
I must be off now. Toodles. Oh, also, I'm fucking your wife.
INT. SIS HQ
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH arrives and is SLIGHTLY NERVOUS, which would only be evident to PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSEDLY HIGHLY TRAINED TO NOTICE SHIT LIKE THAT BUT IT'S NOT LIKE THIS IS AN ENTIRE GIANT BUILDING FULL OF EXACTLY THOSE PEOPLE OR ANYTHING SO WHY EVEN MENTION IT.
Well hello there. I can't help but flirt with a man whose name sounds so vaguely dirty.
Er, thanks. Oh hey, I have to take this call. Pardon me.
WHAT'S THAT?! SOMETHING REALLY REALLY COOL IS HAPPENING RIGHT BEHIND EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM?!?
(waits for everyone to turn around, grabs logbook)
Yoink! Heh, heh.
(sees secretary looking back at him)
Ah, yes, thanks for the tip, Mr. Yoink.
(crams logbook in briefcase, runs off)
I think that went rather well.
Hello, Bandersnatch. Just thought I'd mention that I was listening in on your phone call, introducing the shocking concept that communications inside a spy headquarters might be spied on.
INT. BACK AT GARY'S HOUSE
Well, the logbook supports Tom's story. Guess we can proceed to the next scene, where we find Mark Strong.
Excellent! Tom, you'll join us in finding the mole, right?
Yes, IF you promise to help me rescue the Russian babe I told you about, who knows all kinds of important Russian secrets that could devastate their entire spy network. I'm sure they're keeping her pampered in a luxurious hotel suite until we can get her back.
I should mention "Karla" again.
INT. SIS CHRISTMAS PARTY - FLASHBACK
GARY OLDMAN STARES at CIARAN HINDS who STARES at TOBY JONES who STARES at JOHN HURT who STARES at GARY OLDMAN who STARES at COLIN FIRTH who STARES INTENTLY FOR QUITE A LONG TIME at MARK STRONG who STARES INTENTLY RIGHT BACK at COLIN FIRTH who STARES at GARY OLDMAN.
EXT. BRITISH PRIVATE SCHOOL
BENEDICT finds MARK STRONG teaching BIRD-SMASHING CLASS.
So, it seems you're still alive.
Indeed. Oh, and that Russian woman that Tom Hardy went on and on about? Who was going to be so vitally important to everything? Yeah, she's totally dead.
What about "Karla"? Did you learn anything about him?
Oh yes, he's going to be vitally important to everything.
I see. Anything else you'd like to add?
Two things. First, John Hurt gave your suspects nursery-rhyme nicknames, mostly to give this whole story a nifty title, so now that's taken care of.
Nicely done. And second?
You know that SIS guy who we've seen just enough of that he must have some narrative function, but isn't a famous enough actor to be the Russian mole? You can get your final clue from him.
INT. SECRET SPY HOUSE
GARY and BENEDICT use the FINAL CLUE to set a TRAP for the RUSSIAN MOLE.
Well this is it. This is where we find out if Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, or Colin Firth is evil. Each one could be either the Russian mole or a misguided patsy, and there is roughly equal evidence to implicate all of them. In fact they're practically interchangeable at this point.
But John le Carre is a recognized master of spy fiction. Maybe there's something far more surprising in store, like I'm evil, or YOU'RE evil, or this whole thing is actually Tom Hardy's master plan. It can't just be "well, one of these three characters is evil, and oh, it's this guy". Can it?
ROLL ONE SIX-SIDED DIE. If you rolled 1-2, the mole is TOBY JONES. If you rolled 3-4, the mole is CIARAN HINDS. If you rolled 5-6, the mole is COLIN FIRTH.
TOBY JONES OR CIARAN HINDS OR COLIN FIRTH
Shucks, you caught me. I am in fact evil. Now I must stoically accept being sent off to Russia as a traitor.
We should have known it was you, what with your usurping John Hurt / listening in on Benedict / fucking Gary's wife.
But don't worry about Russia, Toby/Ciaran/Colin. We're going to have you killed first. To make sure we can't be implicated, we've ordered Mark Strong to do it, since he's legally dead. And to make it extra-inconspicuous, we've asked him to use a high-powered military-grade rifle to assassinate you with.
TOBY JONES OR CIARAN HINDS OR COLIN FIRTH
INT. SIS HQ - THE NEXT DAY
GARY is PUT IN CHARGE of the SIS!
We are so awesome!
Hey, whatever happened to that whole "Karla" subplot that was built up to be vitally important?