Films based of popular television shows have had a rocky history. With varying critical successes and fails such as Are You Being Served?, In The Loop, Ali G and The League of Gentlemen, it was with a wary anticipation that I went in Spooks: The Greater Good. But soon into the film that anticipation turned straight into despair.
Spooks: The Greater Good stars Peter Firth as Harry Pearce, who after a high level terrorist escapes from MI5 custody, goes off the grid to find the escaped terrorist himself. Harry’s protégé, Will Holloway, played by Kit Harrington, is brought back into the fold by MI5 to track down Harry and stop a terrorist attack on London.
I have seen a fair few Spooks episodes. They were always on quite late if I remember correctly, and though I never watched them every week, I did enjoy the ones I watched. Sadly however, I found only the bare minimum of enjoyment in watching Spooks: The Greater Good. One of the main problems for me was the casting of Kit Harrington in the lead role. His voice is monotone throughout the entire film, with the same going for his facial expression. Yes he is Jon Snow, and he maybe good in Game of Thrones (as everyone keeps reminding me) but he is not good here. Many of the cast have this same problem of zero emotion being displayed, with Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle and Eleanor Matsuura succumbing to it as well. The only actor who does display any emotion is Tim McInnerny as Director-General of MI5 Oliver Mace, who delivers most of his lines with a sneering sense of disapproval.
Switching to the bad guys, our high level terrorist/bad guy Adem Qasim (played by another GoT alumni Elyes Gabel) is woefully underused. For how much the MI5 guys talk him up to be a high value terrorist, we only get around five minutes or less of film time devoted to him, meaning we don’t get to learn about him and why MI5 are so invested in why they want to hunt this man down in particular. In the press releases and in the film he is referred to as being very charismatic, but we don’t ever see this, which gives him a character trait that might have brought something a bit different to the table.
Fight and chase sequences are interspersed throughout the film, all with fluctuating quality. A gun battle/chase at the very beginning of the film is handled very well, but halfway through the film our old friend “shaky handheld cam” rears its ugly head. Fights are over in a series of quick motions, most of which happen with the actors backs to the camera, meaning we don’t get to see anything spectacular. You can see with the fast movements it was trying to copy the Bourne franchise, yet it never allows us to see these brutal flourishes of violence, leaving us as the audience wanting more. The final fight/terrorism scene is fairly well put together, even if it did keep cutting away to Kit Harrington’s bland face every couple of seconds.
There are some good things in the film, as usual. The music, created by Dominic Lewis (known for his work on Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6) does have a nice vibe to it, with it being reminiscent of John Powell’s famous The Bourne Identity score. Several of the fight scenes I have already mentioned are put together fairly well, along with fleeting scenes throughout the film, such as a home invasion of an MI5 agent and some of the dialogue that is thrown around the Situation Room at the end of the film.
But overall, the film just feels very generic, with story points stolen from much better spy films, as well as stock character motives (Absent parents, revenge and redemption seem to be the sole things that define Kit Harrington’s character). In summary, Spooks: The Greater Good is not a bad film, but has nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd of modern spy movies. If you’re a fan of the series you might get kick out of the nods to older characters, but it’s nothing you’ll keep coming back to.
Score: 4/10 Add a couple of points to the score if you like the TV show
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