SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD (UK/15A/104mins)
Directed by Bharat Nalluri. Starring Kit Harington, Jennifer Ehle, Tuppence Middleton, Elyes Gabel, Lara Pulver, Peter Firth, Tim McInnerny.
THE PLOT: After a terrorist escapes custody in London, former MI-5 agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) is drawn back into the intelligence world, and teams up with the former Head of Intelligence for MI-5 to track down the terrorist, before he has the chance to stage an attack on London.
THE VERDICT: BBC TV show SPOOKS ran for 10 seasons and is syndicated around the world, SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD picks up where the TV show left off, and draws everyone back in for one last mission. Although this would make it seem that this is a movie for fans of the TV show, there is enough exposition and back-story given that newcomers to the franchise have enough to care about, and can root for the characters.
Kit Harington joins the crew as a former MI-5 agent who was given the boot for not being good enough. Of course, when things go bad, he is brought back into the fold. Harington does fine in the role – he is not actually given a lot of emotion to work with – and ably carries the action scenes. Peter Firth reprises his role as Harry Pearce, and brings a sense of familiarity to the proceedings. Firth forms a rather endearing mentor relationship with Harington, and although there is double cross after double cross, the two have strong energy together on screen. Tuppence Middleton rounds out the central trio and, although she doesn’t have a whole lot to do, at least there isn’t a love story thrown in for the sake of it, and her character is given room to grow. The rest of the cast is made up of Alyes Gabriel, Jennifer Ehle, Lara Pulver and Tim McInnerny.
The story, written by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, does not seem to have an awful lot to do with the TV show, and this is both to the film’s strength and detriment. Fans are sure to want to see characters they love on screen, and not killed off in the opening act, but this does allow for new fans to be brought on board. The film is filled with exposition, but it is done as subtly as possible, in order to catch the audience up, and keep the story moving. The film struggles, however, in making itself anything other than a generic spy film, even though it has so much of the TV show to draw from.
Director Bharat Nalluri keeps the film well paced, and the set pieces are well constructed and thrilling, but once the film has to stand on its own two feet, it has difficulty distinguishing itself from a drawn out episode of 24, or the preamble to a Bond film.
In all, SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD carefully caters to both fans and newcomers, but has difficulty in making itself anything other than a decent enough spy thriller, with yer man from Game of Thrones in it. Fans are sure to be disappointed, and newcomers may not be fully inspired to check out the TV show that started it all.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Spooks: The Greater Good
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.0Decent spy thriller
  • filmbuff2011

    Spooks, the BBC’s more realistic answer to 24, ran for 10 seasons from 2002 – 2011. This reviewer has only seen a few episodes, so this review inevitably loses out on the backstory and background detail involving character motivations. But Spooks: The Greater Good works just fine as a standalone film too and an encouragement to go back and explore the series in full. MI5 boss Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) is running an operation in London to hand over a wanted terrorist, Qasim (Elyes Gabel). When the operation is ambushed, Pearce has to make a critical decision: let Qasim go or face unwanted civilian casualties. He chooses the former, the lesser of two evils. Facing disapproval from his colleagues Mace (Tim McInerny) and Geraldine (Jennifer Ehle), Harry disappears. He contacts decommissioned agent Will (Kit Harington) to help him, as Harry suspects there’s a mole in MI5 who set up Qasim’s escape. Finding out who was responsible is going to be tricky and dangerous… Spooks: The Greater Good is similar to the TV series, maintaining a sense of intrigue and paranoia about who you can trust and how difficult, life-changing decisions are made by those at the top of the spy game. It also works on a broader canvas though, as the characters move around London, the coastline and Berlin as they play their dangerous game of cat and mouse with Qasim. Firth is excellent here. Playing the anchor and moral compass of the film, his character is a man who weighs each word and decision carefully for maximum impact. There’s a great scene between him and another character towards the end of the film which shows just how slippery but righteous Harry is. Director Bharat Nalluri worked on the TV series, so he knows the ins-and-outs of the characters. Despite being an entertaining and gripping ride throughout, The Greater Good never really shakes off the TV label. Nalluri was careful to maintain the style of the TV series, but a film requires something grander and more elaborate in scale and ambition, like in the successful transition of The X Files to the big screen. The Greater Good just about justifies being a film, but it might also have been better suited to a one-off TV special. Fans will want to see it, while the curious like this reviewer should find it a worthwhile watch. ***