I watched Spooks the TV series growing up, and was always a fan of its gritty realism. Sure, Bond and others have more high-octane drama, romance and gadgetry, but rarely do you get an insight into the actual people behind all this; what I like about Spooks is that it doesn’t hide away from the fact that being a spy, or more appropriately an Intelligence Officer, has a massive impact on those involved, socially and emotionally, and is in no way a glamourous profession. In Spooks: The Greater Good, we’re presented with the classic Good Guys vs Bad Guys, but we very much feel the weight each side has on its shoulders, and how exhausting the cat and mouse game can be.
Set several years after the last episode of the TV series, Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) heads up counter-terrorism at MI5 as his team face one of their greatest trials to date. Due to a mole in the agency, a high-level terrorist captive (Elyses Gabel) has slipped through their fingers and is now on the run, plotting a deadly attack on London. Trusting no one within MI5, Harry must instead rely on a former operative who he personally discharged, one Will Holloway (Kit Harrington); together they must cross and double-cross their way to a solution and save not just the people of London, but MI5 itself.
Whilst the film does entertain with several car chases, and one notably tense stand-off towards the end, the focus leans more towards the classic spy genre of moles and Cold War grudges. This plays well with a strong British cast who are suited to more intricate and meaningful dialogue than their action-based counterparts. There are moral dilemmas here that are often passed over in similar films, ‘the greater good’ being a good choice of title as often the characters, mainly Harry, have to discard human dignity and life instead for cold, ruthless pragmatism. It’s here that we begin to truly grasp the human collateral of working in intelligence; slowly but surely operatives will be ground down until all of their moral fibres are frayed and their worlds turn grey.
The performances of Firth, Harrington and Ehle are exceptional, and fans of the series will delight in seeing many familiar faces return to the big screen. Those watching should not expect a Hollywood style action spy thriller, this is more of a continuation of the series than anything else, but as the latter was so good it shouldn’t put many off. I always enjoy seeing films with a strong British cast, there’s an “us against the world” spirit that seems to join them all together and make you feel like the characters actually know each other, ultimately enabling them to present a story that an audience can really sink their teeth into.
4 / 5
Dir: Bharat Nalluri
Scr: Jonathan Brackley, Sam Vincent
Starring: Kit Harington,Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Tim McInnerny
Prd: Jane Featherstone, Stephen Garrett, Ollie Madden
DOP: Hubert Taczanowksi
Music: Dominic Lewis
Run time: 104 mins
Spooks: The Greater Good is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD, courtesy of Entertainment One.
Check out this exclusive clip from the film: