Stanley (Colin Firth), an illusionist, is considered to be the greatest debunker of fake spiritualists. He's asked to investigate a young woman named Sophie (Emma Stone), who has many people convinced that she's a spirit medium. However, some believe she's perpetrating a hoax and swindling her devoted clients. Stanley gets to know her, but the more time he spends with her, the more mystified he becomes. Unable to uncover any trickery on her part, he begins to question whether she is really psychic.
The time is 1973. The Cold War of the mid-20th Century continues to damage international relations. Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6 and code-named the Circus, is striving to keep pace with other countries' espionage efforts and to keep the U.K. secure. The head of the Circus, known as Control (John Hurt), personally sends dedicated operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) into Hungary. But Jim's mission goes bloodily awry, and Control is forced out of the Circus - as is his top lieutenant, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a career spy with razor-sharp senses.
It all begins as handsome Scottish physician Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), fresh out of med school, jets off to Uganda, looking for excitement, romance and the joy of helping a country that truly needs his medical skills. Soon after his arrival, Garrigan is called to the scene of a bizarre accident: Idi Amin, the country’s newly installed leader, has smashed his Maserati into a hapless cow. Boldly taking the chaotic situation under control, Garrigan impresses Amin as brazenly forthright.