Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)
I'm not the first to say it but there is a distinct John Buchanesque streak running through Spooks: The Greater Good. Despite all the high-tech trappings we have grown accustomed to in modern day thrillers, this is still at its heart a “hero on the run” movie with sinister unseen forces hot in pursuit. This modest production never feels cheap, although it does lack a degree of polish and panache that we see in its contemporary. Yet it's sub John le Carré narrative provides a pleasant counterbalance to the budget action set pieces.
Director, Bharat Nalluri, shows off the London locations extremely well with scenes set in such locations as Heathrow, Waterloo Bridge, the West End and the ubiquitous Whitehall. There are plenty of sweeping panoramic shots of the city, highlighting the sharp contrast between old and new architecture. This plays well into the unfolding storyline which pits the old guard of the intelligence service against those forces that seek a different role within the modern world. These may not be the most original of themes but they play out well within the context of this franchise.
Kit Harington plays Will Holloway, a former operative who left the services under dubious circumstances. When a high-value terrorist, Qasim (Elyes Gabel) escapes custody during a routine handover, Will must team with disgraced MI5 Intelligence Chief Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) to track him down before an imminent terrorist attack on London. Pearce hints that all is not be as it may seem and that the entire situation may be subject to external manipulation. A stream of double crosses soon implies that Pearce is indeed right.
What surprised me the most about Spooks: The Greater Good was the producers decision not to pander to the mainstream and create yet more generic PG-13 rated action fodder. Spooks: The Greater Good has some tightly edited action sequences, complete with bullet hits and bloodshed. It may not be a return to the gritty era of The 3 Days of the Condor but it's a lot more satisfying than the sanitised content that passes for the Thriller genre these days. Then again Spooks (AKA MI-5) the TV show was not known for being tame. The Deep Fat Fryer incident from the original series still looms large in fans memories.
As with most quality spy films, the ambiguity of the government forces and the undercurrent of constant duplicity that makes the story engaging. It is pleasing to see Peter Firth, who appeared in every episode of the series, return as spy master Sir Harry Pearce, who suspects that British intelligence may well have gone rogue. He has always been the most compelling asset of the original franchise. Spooks: The Greater Good may not be a A-list movie but is far from disappointment. It entertains, without re-inventing the wheel and provides an acceptable appendix to the original show. I can think of worse legacies to leave.