Director: Bharat Nalluri
Starring: Peter Firth, Kit Harrington, Jennifer Ehle, Elyes Gabel
If you’d never been to London and had only seen it in films, you’d probably get the impression that the entire city spends its day stood by the river, looking out pensively over the Thames whilst pondering on life’s great challenges. Spooks: The Greater Good is no different, boasting plenty of bridge-based reflective thinking backdropped by London skylines. The Greater Good attempts to bring MI5’s Spooks to the big screen (spinning off from the BBC’s 10-series hit that ended in 2011) and fans of the show are sure to enjoy the revival, despite a flawed approach that will leave uninitiated viewers cold.
Restrained by a modest budget, Spooks: The Greater Good tries to root itself in the cheaper and more traditional tradecraft of spies, clandestine meetings and double agents being the order of the day. It’s these elements that really work, displaying the edge that Spooks used to serve up on the small screen, and it seems as though the film should have committed to that “authentic” tone throughout. Yet unfortunately there is a drift into the grand territory of Bourne and Bond where it simply cannot step up against the blockbuster competition.
Peter Firth leads with a believable and stoic performance, unsurprising considering he’s now played Harry Pearce for over ten years. His often emotionless demeanour adds an effective air of mystery, even if it makes his work difficult to truly assess on occasion. Kit Harrington has all the wonder-boy trappings of an MI5 heartthrob yet never convincingly displays the necessary charisma or passion that the character demands. The rest of the cast is filled with forgettable characters and distinctly average performances, so it’s a real shame that the Game Of Thrones star wasn’t able to shine through.
The plot trundles along like a Central line carriage, twisting and turning with enough bumpy momentum to retain interest over 100 minutes but never providing enough of an exciting jump to move you to the edge of your seat. Opening on aerial shots of a depressingly wet London, gloomy weather exacerbated by a washed-out colour filter, The Greater Good starts as it means to go on. The cinematography is uninspired and certain scenes drift into a televisual look, not helping with the film’s efforts to be more than an extended episode of Spooks.
Spooks: The Greater Good had the potential to be considerably worse and devotees of the BBC original will find a lot to love with this adequate spin-off. If you never saw the TV series then you’re likely to be less impressed, yet should still find a functional and watchable slice of British spy drama, although it’s ultimately forgettable and unable hold a candle to it’s cinematic contemporaries.
★ ★ ½
Spooks: The Greater Good is on wide release in UK Cinemas now.