Spooks: The Greater Good Film Review
3.75 / 5
An absorbing thrill-fest.
The Secret Service is under attack by a dangerous terrorist intent on bringing justice onto the powerful people of Secret Services that have ruined his homeland and took his wife away from him. However, all is not what it seems as this escaped terrorist has been used by a traitor within MI5 to bring down Sir Harry Pearce and British control of its own security to hand over to the CIA. Harry, with the assistance of Will Holloway attempt to prevent a number of terrorist attacks on British soil, and to uncover the mole within MI5. Spooks: The Greater Good is good on its promise of thrill-seeking action and fascinating pursuits, as well as the constant battle between good and evil.
It was inevitable that the film version was going to be judged alongside the popular and brilliant long-running TV series, and most of us would agree that though it was a good attempt to translate the thrilling goings-on of the British Counter-Terrorism department to the big screen, it was always going to fall short. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the film, I did immensely, but for me Spooks is better suited to the small screen where there is ample opportunity to explore underlying personal strifes, or the simmering build-up of secret organisations planning to run the world.
From the first gunshot death in the opening sequence (which made everyone in the cinema jump), we knew that this film was not going to be the usual Hollywood action film where the bad guys always miss their target and the good guys inevitably win. This is Spooks after all and the film is very much in keep with the values of the TV show and of the profession in general. There are many deaths on all sides, and each of them are brutally realistic, especially series 10 regular Erin (Lara Pulver) who dies in an allusion to the title: The Greater Good.
Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) is a man who also believes his actions are for the greater good, though as the film progresses his inspiration and fuel for his acts of terrorism resonate from his belief that the secret service had killed his wife. His release and escape in the opening sequence of the film is the trigger for the CIA to take over MI5 as the British are seen as no longer competent at dealing with the demands. But the push for change is being engineered by an unknown person within the British Secret Service who is connected with Qasim’s escape. It is up to the now renegade Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and decommissioned agent Will Holloway (Kit Harrington) to unravel the web of deceit that has wrapped its way around MI5 and to snare the traitorous spider that lurks within its walls.
Harry and in particularly Will engage in thrilling action sequences as they attempt to rip through the strands of defence that the traitor has spun, in entertaining style. Spooks, with a greater budget is able to string together some stylish, concise and sharp action scenes that out-do the TV show in this regard, but fall short in terms of big screen counterparts Bond and Bourne. Though the film has outdone the TV show in terms of action as a spectacle, the TV show is streets ahead in terms of personal storyline, case in point Lucas North (Richard Armitage). The complex MI5 agent had a backstory that was over a series long and it ebbed and flowed underneath the regular activities of MI5. And when his story finally came to its fascinating conclusion, and undeniably one of Spooks’ best ever episodes at the end of series 9, it meant something. The fans of the show explored a multitude of feelings for Lucas’ character which made the episodes unmissable, this was due to the brilliantly built backstory for him, and the unravelling of it in fascinating fashion. In contrast, the film kept alluding to Will’s father and the potential of a great backstory was there to be utilised underneath the main events of the film. However, in this regard it failed on its promise, fleeting mentions of Berlin was the main tact that the writers used and it was rather undeveloped in comparison to Lucas’ story. Having said that, the TV show had over 10 hours of build up, while the film has to compress it all in 2 hours, which is a big ask considering the need to focus on the main events of the film.
For the Spooks fans out there, I will give a short shout out to cameos of Erin and Malcolm (Hugh Simon). Though they didn’t feature as much as Spooks stalwart Sir Harry Pearce, they both played crucial parts in the film whether they knew it themselves or not.
The film was quick, crisp and enthralling till the last; Harry and Will were brilliant protagonists and were incredibly resourceful and adept when facing the threat of not only a terrorist attack but also the threat of the secret services that had the traitor at the reigns. The Greater Good has plenty of twists and turns and also some great cinematography in terms of filming London and the chase scenes that helped it tremendously to translate from TV to film, which is sometimes an obstacle for such ventures. Overall, it is definitely a must-watch for the avid Spooks fans, and also it is quite a good fix for those of you that are missing a Bond film, and for those who have never watched an episode… it is perhaps worth a try, though if comparisons are made to the big blockbuster action films, it will probably be described as just good.