Spooks: The Greater Good Film Review
The good old British tradition of TV shows making their way from the small to the big screen with a feature length has been somewhat let down in recent years. An industry culture that once saw film versions of the Sweeney and Quatermass has been shafted with the only offering of note being Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie – we say that with no judgement attached… *cough* So we applauded with glee when we heard a Spooks was getting itself a feature length. Having seen it, we hope more of our favourite British dramas can follow suit. We’re looking at you, Sherlock!
If you’re not familiar with Spooks the TV show, then let us fill you in a little. Spooks follows a group of MI5 agents as they stop terror plots and the like around our great nation’s capital. Keeping the crew and show ticking along is their boss Peter Firth’s Sir Harry Pearce, a hard-nosed but ultimately loveable teddy bear who loves his country more than he does his own mother.
The film itself follows Pearce (Firth) after he is forced to release from custody a charismatic terrorist named Adem Qasim, played by the Elyes Gabel, following an ambush while the prisoner was in transit. Believing Qasim was helped by someone inside MI5, Pearce enlists ex-agent Will Holloway, played by Game of Throne’s Jon Snow (Kit Harington), to find the traitor and thwart a terror attack on London.
You might think that Spooks is essentially Bond-lite. Well, you’re probably right. But it’s actually one of the main draws to the film. It’s low-key, complex and any glitz would take away from the job-like feel of the agent underworld. That’s not to say it’s boring – Spooks: The Greater Good is paced along fantastically. While it might not leave you exhausted, it always holds your attention with zero lulls.
Much of that is down to our leading Frith, who just like in the show, captivates with his slow-burning charisma. Once Harry Pearce goes off the grid to do anything he can to protect Queen and Country, you’re pulling for him every step of the way. He’s the perfect British hero really – a smart witted maverick, who’s warm-hearted but also ruthless (no pun intended).
The same would be said of Kit Harington’s Will if he wasn’t so wet. Harington, who sports a very slick-looking Harrington jacket, is fine here. He’s broody enough that your girlfriend will go home happy, but he lacks the humour we’d want from a young Spooks recruit. The main problem a movie version of Spooks naturally has is the show has seen a high turnover of cast members over the years – David Oyelowo, Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard Armitage and Rupert Penry-Jones have all gone on to shine elsewhere.
It means Spooks: The Greater Good cannot rely on already established character affiliations as the cast turnover in the series is so rapid. The film itself does suffer as a consequence. Baring Harry, and a Malcolm who has 5 minutes of airtime, you’ll struggle to truly feel the peril here.
Director Bharat Nalluri does covers all the bases, though. You’ve got boardroom dramas, street chases, fights and plot twists that are crafted with an expert touch. We also liked that the finale stuck to Spooks’ small-scale origins with an indoors episode that, while nobody will call epic, is undoubtedly tense as you like. The big screen also allows London to be seen in all its wonderful glory.
Gabel and the rest of the cast are competent enough with veterans Jennifer Ehle, Tim McInnerny and Homeland’s David Harewood on hand to keep the politics of battle plodding along nicely, while the other standout, apart from Frith, is young MI5 recruit Tuppence Middleton. More airtime would have been nice.
The script is also a bit splashy in places and the conspiracy is hard to care about, but Spooks is a decent low-key spy thriller. A budget Bond it might be in places, but Frith is sensational and we’d happily sit through another instalment. For us, this is a well worthy adaptation to a series we love.
Our Rating: 3 ½ Stars