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Spooks: The Greater Good



MV5BMTQyNzE3ODQzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjA1MDUyNDE@__V1__SX1217_SY602_Released: 8 May

Directed by: Bharat Nalluri

Starring: Kit Harington, Peter Firth, David Harewood

Certificate: 15

From Bond to Bourne and everywhere in between, Spooks: the Greater Good borrows from the best.

There’s the airport chase scene from Casino Royale; the slap-crunch fight choreography from the Bourne series, the decorated military member who may or may not have been turned by an Arabic revolutionary (Homeland). There’s an all-out attack on Intelligence headquarters (24). There’s a prisoner exchange gone wrong (Mission Impossible). There’s a rooftop stand-off with a sniper (The American). There’s a boardroom battle of words (Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy). There’s a double, sorry, triple, no, scratch that, quadruple cross (Salt). There’s even a news footage intro sequence and a prodigious agent pulled back in for one last job (too many to list).

If it’s true what they say; that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Spooks: the Greater Good could rival the combined charms of Byron, Casanova and Don Juan.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Written and directed by Spooks’ alumni Jonathan Brackley, Sam Vincent and Bharat Nalluri, Spooks: the Greater Good kicks things off with a heist. While on transfer to a new facility, the charismatic terrorist Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) is sprung from MI-5 custody — and in broad daylight, no less. The incident is labeled as “the most serious failure in MI-5’s history”, leading to the resignation and eventual suicide of the organisation’s Head of Counter-Terrorism; Harry Pearce (Peter Firth). However, the circumstances of Harry’s death are suspicious. Driven to the brink of despair, he throws himself into the Thames. But only from a height of about 15 meters or so; an act that would most likely result in him, well… Getting a bit wet. After Harry “goes off the grid”, MI-5 brings in former agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) to uncover the truth behind Harry and Adem’s disappearances.

So far, so good. But once the stage is set, the cracks start showing. For example, we’re first introduced to the film’s lead, Will Holloway, as he’s making a daring escape from… Someone. Or somewhere, we’re not exactly sure. We’re not given a location, motivation or anything else to work with. So, after dodging some non-descript goons, Holloway leaps out of a two-story window and lands, seemingly unscathed, onto the street below. Moments later, a demur agent pokes her head out of a nearby car and says:“get in”. It’s an inelegant intro, and it fails to us anything at all about our main character. He is simply doing something cool. And according to the film, that should be enough. It isn’t.

Although the plot gets off to a shaky start, things pick up considerably in the second half. After the key players are determined, the script shifts into fifth gear and leaves behind all of the cliched comforts from the first act. The twists and turns become more intriguing, the writing; more confident. And despite his clumsy debut, Harington is excellent. It’s great to see him flourish in another feature-length film, especially after only glimpsing his talent in Game of Thrones. Peter Firth is similarly great as series star Harry Pearce. He spits out the the film’s best line with palpable relish: “If you don’t give me what I want, I’m going to cut out your wife’s unborn baby and drown it in the toilet.” Christ.

In addition, the film is, for the most part, well-produced. The lighting’s suitably dramatic and there’s a welcome absence of the patented spy thriller shaky-cam, which is a relief. The polychromatic palette is easy on the eye too, with lots of muted blues and lustrous silvers. All in all, the visuals pack enough pomp and circumstance to keep cinema-goers happy. It’s just a shame that almost all of the film’s strengths are purely cosmetic.

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