Spooks: The Greater Good
Big screen outing for the BBC TV show, with Kit Harington and Peter Firth
It’s weird that a TV show which ended four years ago has been resurrected for the big screen — despite being a popular BAFTA-winner that ran to ten series — particularly because only one of the show's veterans is still standing. That would be Peter Firth’s long-suffering but indomitable Sir Harry Pearce. (Oh, and Malcolm the computer guy lives!)
Harry’s still Head of Counter Terrorism at MI5. But not for much longer, with homegrown jihadis running amok and the usual assortment of shifty, duplicitous snoots slithering around Whitehall. After the transport for a terrorist prisoner (Elyes Gabel) goes horribly, suspiciously (and awfully familiarly) awry, and the CIA get their panties in a bunch, Harry is out and apparently driven to suicide.
If there was one thing we learned from Spooks it was that life expectancy for agents is very short. The other thing we learned is that disappeared doesn’t necessarily mean dead. So it emerges Harry ran his godson Will (Kit Harington) out of the service for the lad’s own good, only for the resentful ex-agent to run his own game as a rogue operative, until he is ensnared by the backstabbing brigade to find Harry. Furtive rendezvous, revelations, betrayals, confessions, big moral dilemmas and a few bursts of stunt-packed action ensue.
Honestly this is very enjoyable, but cinematically pedestrian, looking and feeling like a long TV episode. It’s not in the Bond / Bourne league (although director Bharat Nalluri has some nerve staging a set-piece on Waterloo Bridge, with a sniper atop the National Theatre), but neither is it as grittily realistic as it thinks it is. The chief asset is the father-son, mentor-protegé dynamic — very well drawn between Firth and charismatic new boy Harington — while Firth’s way with a dry one-liner keeps the wearily cynical, ever dutiful Harry an endearingly, ever-so-British icon.
General release from Fri 8 May.