Independence Day : Resurgence Review

2016 is looking like the year of unnecessary sequels. With Zoolander 2, Absolutely Fabulous and Jason Bourne all coming out this year, it’s cementing the old, tired adage of Hollywood not having any new ideas. But, here we go, with another film that’s over twenty years old getting a sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.

Independence Day: Resurgence stars Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe and Jessie Usher and is directed by Roland Emmerich. Set twenty years after the first film, the aliens that Earth defended against come back, with more resolve to destroy the planet this time.

I wasn’t that big a fan of the first Independence Day. I’m not a fan of disaster movies in general, I find them boring for the most part. So it was with great reluctance that I went to see Independence Day: Resurgence (titled in the great tradition of “Name of film, colon, ominous sounding word beginning with RE”). I’ll try and be professional about this, but I’m just calling my biases out beforehand, just to be open.

You would think if it was a film set twenty years after the original film, they might add in some new characters. While they do put some new characters in, they are all intrinsically linked back to the older characters, most of which look like their coming back for the paycheck. The problem with having so many characters though is that none of them get enough screen time. Most of the new ones get only the basest of character development, where something could have been added, especially to Jessie Usher’s character, who is the son of Will Smith’s character from the original. The older characters as well have script issues, with going from rivals to best friends without anything in between.

The abundance of characters leads me onto the second problem I have with the film, the editing. Not in a camera/cinematography way, more in terms of the story. Independence Day: Resurgence suffers from “The Phantom Menace Effect”. The Phantom Menace‘s last third switches from tragedy to comedy to action too quickly, the emotional tones of the film are all messed up. Independence Day: Resurgence has this same problem in its final act. It jumps between six different scenes, each with differing emotional changes, with the film feeling inconsistent at best and jarring at worst. It’s even worse when people start dying, most aren’t given proper due, so it feels anticlimactic.

The only really shining light through all of it is Jeff Goldblum. He has some funny lines (which really is saying something, this script is full of weak jokes and “comedic” characters) and he looks like he’s having fun while everyone else is just there. But that’s Jeff Goldblum, you get what you pay for. It would have been better if Will Smith had returned though. His double act with Goldblum is one of the reasons why the first Independence Day is loved and I think that it would have supplied a lot of the charm that is missing.

If you are looking for a film filled with mindless fun then you’ve come to the right place. Roland Emmerich is the guy who directed The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and White House Down, along with the original Independence Day. If anyone knows how to create big explosions on screen while supplying a melodramatic and cheesy script, it’s this guy. But sadly, Independence Day isn’t that good a film. It just stands there, lamenting it’s glory days, saying “Hey kids, I was kind of great once.”

Score: 4/10 Big, loud, CGI-filled, but just not that fun or memorable.

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Gods Of Egypt Review

I’ve been waiting for Gods Of Egypt for a good couple of months now. Released in America back at the second half of February, it was commercially panned by critics. The director started calling film critics “deranged idiots” and “utterly worthless”. So naturally I wanted to see it, despite having to wait three more months before it came out in the UK.

Gods Of Egypt stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler and Courtney Eaton and is directed by Alex Proyas. The films follows god Horus (Coster-Waldau), as he must team up with the mortal Bek (Thwaites) to defeat the evil god Set from destroying Egypt.

I won’t deny I had fun in Gods Of Egypt. For maybe around five minutes overall, a little bit here and there, I liked it. Everyone is playing it up to the nines; metal CGI god-bird things are flying around smashing into each other and generally the film is unabashedly campy. I mean, quality actors like Chadwick Boseman, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush are in this. They must know it’s a ridiculous film but they are having fun with it. Thanks to Christopher Nolan, every big spectacle smash-fest thinks it has to be smart and broody. For that, I almost want to be lenient on Gods Of Egypt, it’s glorious in all its inept idiocy that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself for brief moments.

But please understand, it’s not good.

For all the exquisite cast, it really is poor acting. Geoffrey Rush looks like he’s about to fall asleep when delivering his lines. Chadwick Boseman is mincing around the place like Raul Julia and leading man Brenton Thwaties has only two emotions, earnest and REALLY, REALLY earnest. There is no chemistry between Horus and his bride Hathor (played by Elodie Yung) and nothing that can really get me invested in these characters or their struggles. That might be down to the script (written by the director Proyas), which are mostly just reused lines from every other blockbuster-budget movie that has ever graced cinemas.

I quite enjoyed some of the action scenes. Sure, it’s just big CGI messes smashing together, like a five year-old playing with their toys, but some were entertaining. A battle between Horus and two of Set’s lieutenants (riding giant Cobras) was fun while it lasted and the opening of the film, where Horus and Set face off, morphing into their metallic forms was enjoyable. Another point, when Bek must raid Set’s treasure room, which is filled with traps, was entertaining enough, even if it was over quite quickly.

My main problem with the film though was the extraordinary run-time. The film is over two hours, which is not acceptable for a film like this. There are several scenes that I could cut, where nothing is being added to the narrative or characters.

Some people have been calling this the worst film of the year. I don’t object to people called it bad, but the outlandish villainization of this one film is ridiculous. Sure, the film is rather simple-minded, loud and whitewashed or Orientalized (go read Edward Said), the script is messy, the characters are either wooden or pantomime and it drags on for way longer than it need to. All fair points, but several films that have come out of Hollywood have a few of the same problems. The Star Wars prequels, Avengers 2/ Civil War, Batman Vs. Superman, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Angry Birds Jurassic Park 2-4, they all have at least one or two of these problems. Even the original Clash Of The Titans/Jason And The Argonauts that Gods of Egypt is referencing have them. Yes, Ray Harryhausen is legend and his work shines above criticism, but the other parts of his films are really quite bad (trust me, I’ve seen them both in the past week).

In summary, Gods Of Egypt is dumb. It doesn’t get a recommendation from me, but it’s definitely not the worst film of the year. Maybe one for lovers of spectacle and campy cheese, but for everyone else, it’s a no-go.

Score: 4/10 A so-so big-budget adventure with many faults.

Jason Bourne Collection Review

Preface

With the new film in the series, Jason Bourne coming out in the…Jason Bourne franchise, I thought it might be a good idea to go back to the series as a whole. The Bourne series’ influence on cinema in the post-2000 scene is massive, everything from Taken to XIII to Daniel Craig’s James Bond owes a debt to Bourne, and it’s still influencing cinema today. The films I will be reviewing are;

  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Bourne Legacy

Review

The Bourne Identity

The start of the series, with Matt Damon in the title role and Doug Liman on directing duties. The film follows Jason Bourne (Damon) a spy for the CIA who is struck with amnesia and hunted by his old firm. We see the start of the themes and notes of the franchise here; the European setting, a sense of realism (distinguishing it from the most recent James Bond film at the time, Die Another Day) and the bone crunching mix of Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali for the fight scenes. And while there are moments of greatness peppered throughout (The bank/embassy evacuation, the Mini chase through the streets of Paris and the showdown with Clive Owen’s Professor) there is a hint of ropey-ness about it all. The fight scenes aren’t well shot and the sound effects are ripped straight from an Adam West Batman episode. The staircase ride, while it starts interesting, also has some video-gamey sound effects, poor CGI and sped-up footage. Apart from that, Chris Cooper is a great villain as Conklin and John Powell’s score is one of the most recognisible themes in all of cinema.

Score: 6/10 A Good start to an action series.

The Bourne Supremacy

Matt Damon returns as the superspy but the director’s chair has moved from Liman over to Paul Grengrass. The story continues two years on, when a shadowy Russian oligarch forces Bourne back into the CIAs spotlight. While this was never my favourite Bourne film, after going back to it, I look upon it more favorably. Greengrass’ signature hand-held shaky style is at it’s best here (and sadly imitated poorly by many other directors) conveying the brutality and speed of the hand-to-hand fight scenes. One fight, between Bourne and the last Treadstone assassin, Jarda, is a brilliant display of improvised weaponry. The hotel/ Neski segments have a nice Traditions Of The Trade feel and help fill in background to Treadstone. The main weak point is the story. Who is Gretkov (the oligarch) and why is he so interested in Bourne? Why does he have the Neski files? There is no clear point to why the main bad guy is setting up Bourne other than to make some money, which is quite poor character development.

Score: 8/10 If it wasn’t for the weak story, this would have been the best one.

The Bourne Ultimatum

The final chapter of the Matt Damon trilogy, with Paul Greengrass returning to direct. Set mere hours after the end of Supremacy, the film follows Bourne as he finally heads after the CIA to find out who he really is. This is the culmination of everything that was great about the first two while taking out the elements that didn’t work. The hand-to-hand combat is better than ever, with a beautiful set piece against a Capoeira-infused Blackbrair agent. The rest of the action set pieces are on par, with a great rooftop chase in Tangiers as well as a shootout in London Waterloo. The story is also leagues ahead of the tenuous link in Supremacy, with it linking back to Bourne as his origin rather than some half-baked scheme about stealing money from the second film.

Score: 9/10 The best of series so far.

The Bourne Legacy

With Matt Damon and Paul Grengrass both said they were not returning to the series, it fell to the previous three film’s screenwriter Tony Gilory to take the directing chair and Jeremy Renner as a new “Outcome” agent Aaron Cross to take hold of the Bourne franchise. Set during and after The Bourne Ultimatum, the film follows another agent, Aaron Cross, as the previous programs are shut down by government bureaucrat Eric Byer (played superbly by Edward Norton) to risk embarrassment of the CIA. Cross is the only survivor of his program, leading the CIA to hunt him down. While Jeremy Renner is good stand-in for Matt Damon in the action scenes, his manner is too cheerful. He’s always cracking jokes, which doesn’t really fit the character of a deadly assassin. His romance with Rachael Weisz seems token and the film ends flatly, obviously trying to set up a sequel that never came. Apart from one long-take of Cross in a shootout in a house and a nifty motorcycle trick near the end, the rest of the action is boring or ridiculous. The story isn’t engaging like the third film and it’s only the barest relation to the Bourne series that made anyone want to go see it.

Score: 4/10 Generic-o fist-punchy, gun-shooty (that means it’s bad).

Bastille Day Review

Just before the big summer blockbusters come out in cinemas, I decided it would be time to catch up on the backlog of films that I missed the first time around. Bastille Day had been I film I thought looked interesting, but it was slowly pushed back and back more by other, newer films. But I finally went and now the review.

Bastille Day stars Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon and Kelly Reilly and is directed by James Watkins. After a bomb accidently stolen by a pick-pocket (Madden) goes off in the middle of Paris, Briar (Elba), a CIA operative has to find the real terrorists while Paris is on the verge of revolution.

After seeing the trailer for Bastille Day, I thought this might be Idris Elba’s audition for James Bond. Everyone and their dog seem to want him to play the part and this could have shown how he deals with action. Sadly the Bond film he’s imitating is Quantum Of Solace. Crunching sound effects accompany 0.6 second-long takes, tricking our brain into believing we are seeing fighting while all we’re seeing is bodies and fists flying about.

The rest of the action is pretty standard affair. While there is a really well done chase scene over the rooftops, similar to the Tangiers chase in The Bourne Ultimatum and a layered pick-pocketing sequence both at the beginning and in the middle of the film, there is not much else. There is a big gun battle at the end between Elba and the main bad guys, but none of it has much flair. It’s all been done better before.

Briar is a “loose cannon” operative, the kind of guy who sticks his gun in the mouth of an unarmed civilian, punches men off moving motorcycles and doesn’t use door handles, instead kicking every single one down. It’s more Jack Bauer than James Bond, but apart from his fascination with caving men’s skulls in, Elba doesn’t give him any other interesting personality traits, just a terrible American accent. He also sings over the end credits, make of that what you will.

Elba being a shell of character though might be down to the script. It switches from boring to unintentionally hilarious. Some story aspects are fun, Richard Madden’s pickpocket has some good lines as he warms to working with Elba, but most of its forgettable. But there are lines that we are meant to take serious, such as, “the hashtags are spilling over…follow the hashtags…send the final hashtag.” Why try to make believable characterisation when we could just talk about what’s trending on Twitter?

While the film is set in the French capital, it doesn’t use the setting to great effect. The opening of the film, a street party at Sacré Coeur and the finale at the French National Bank are good uses of the setting, the rest of the film is in back alleys and run-down apartments. Similar to last year’s The Gunman, it’s a sad waste of a good setting.

The film is full of these moments, brushing shoulders with ideas that have been done better before. There is a shadowy conspiracy in Bastille Day about government paramilitaries being involved with the destruction which would have been good…if White House Down hadn’t done it better back in 2013. Bastille Day also takes the politicising of White House Down and tries to do its own version of it. It’s trying to put some subtext into the story events but the rest of the film is too on-the-nose to successfully have a subtle thread running through it.

Bastille Day could have been, if not great, at least entertaining. It’s not as sharp as Bond or as gritty as Bourne, instead it’s trying to take what it can from everything else without making an identity of its own.

Score: 4/10 Painfully dull and lifeless.

Ratchet And Clank Review

With Warcraft and Assassins Creed coming out this year, I think 2016 will be the year when we have a genuinely great video game based film, rather than just something that fans (or in some cases nobody) enjoy. But right now, we have another video game based film to review, Ratchet And Clank.

Ratchet And Clank stars James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson and is directed by Jericca Cleland and Kevin Munroe. The film follows space mechanic Ratchet (Taylor) and robot Clank (Kaye) as they team up with the Galactic Rangers to stop Chairman Drek (Giamatti) from destroying the universe.

I was a fan on the Ratchet And Clank games and purely as a fan, I got enjoyment out of the fan service in the film. Most of the voice actors for the characters in the games; James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward (Captain Quark) and Armin Shimermann (Doctor Nefarious) appear and add to the sense that this was made with the fans in mind. The film also has jokes linked in with the games, with gags tied in with spiritual sequels Jax and Sly Cooper.

Despite being a 3+ game, the Ratchet And Clank series had some very adult and clever humour. The film has some great moments but sadly falls down a lot. There are jokes aimed at movie fans, with references to other films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Kubrick’s 2001 and also has jokes riffing on that state of montages and sequel baiting in films. The best are a pair of jokes about the Wilhelm scream and nerd culture. Apart from these flourishes of brilliance though, the humour tries to appeal to the younger demographic with slapstick and low brow jokes for most of the running time, making the large part of the film incredibly boring.

The animation in the film varies in quality immensely. Ratchet is a Lombax, a cat-like creature, and has some good design, but others like Captain Quark just look like plastic models. The animation looks like they seem to skip a couple of frames and reuse sections of it, which speaks to either laziness on the part of the animators or problems with the budget. Maybe they spent all the money on getting Paul Giamatti, John Goodman and Sylvester Stallone to record bit parts in the film. In a year where we’ve had great animation such as Zootropolis or The Jungle Book, you really have to step your game up in terms of quality.

To be honest, the film may be called Ratchet And Clank but a more apt title might be Ratchet: The Movie (Featuring Clank When It Can Be Asked). The dynamic of the film and game is watching these two characters interact, but quite quickly Clank is pushed off to the side with Rosario Dawson’s character Elaris as tech support while Ratchet joins the rest of the Galactic Rangers. It feels rather like a waste of a good starting point and of talent to have these two characters and then do nothing with them.

In the end though, I was just bored with Ratchet And Clank. From the witless script that only had a few great jokes, to the generic story and clichéd side characters, the waste of a good property and the poor animation and design, it’s just a sad finished product. It’s not the worst video game film (which is Silent Hill: Revelations) and isn’t anywhere near the best (which for me is Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Silent Hill), instead it’s just average.

Score: 4/10 Might be just one for the fans.

Carol Review

I have been hearing great things about Carol for a while. It’s been bouncing around film festivals for all of 2015, so I was all for watching it when it finally got a cinema release. Let’s have a look at it.

Carol stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson and is directed by Todd Haynes. Based on the novel, The Price of Salt, the film follows Carol (Blanchett) and Therese (Mara) who after a chance encounter strike up and adulterous relationship.

I was all for loving Carol, it’s got so much admiration and appreciation from the festival crowd and hordes of critics, but when I finally got down to watching it, I was bored out of my mind. In every film I check my watch at least once, at the beginning to try and gauge at what time the film will end, and then maybe a second time if it drags on a tiny bit. I can’t remember how many times I looked at my watch during Carol, but it was nearly every five minutes.

The performances are alright. Cate Blanchett plays Carol as a sultry older woman, subtly seducing Rooney Mara’s young and innocent Therese with ease, but I can’t tell you anything about her personality at all, she’s a shell of a character. Rooney Mara plays Therese as a shy and awkward girl, but sometimes she falls into being bland and uninterested. For a few frames we see her bawling her eyes out over her being apart from Carol, but other times she’s crying for no logical reason, only that the script called for it. Both actresses look good in 50s glamour fashion and makeup, but apart from that the period setting has no real bearing on the story.

The only really good actor is Kyle Chandler as Carol’s husband, Harge. Chandler plays completely against type as a drunk, angry husband, suspicious of his wife’s constant companionship with Therese. Chandler has always played a “nice guy” character, so it’s good to see him break type.

Many critics have been comparing Carol to 2013’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour, mainly due to the similar narrative of a blossoming lesbian relationship. I have my problems with Blue Is The Warmest Colour, but at least that film was compelling and a great romance film, Carol just potters around trying to compete but can’t deliver. I thought the sex scene in Blue Is The Warmest Colour was crass, but I liked it for is ballsy approach to display it on film. Carol tries to do this as well, but it feels like the film is ashamed to have in it, with it cutting away and clunky editing, leading to a weak climax to the film. All in all Blue Is The Warmest Colour does a much better job at everything Carol was trying to do in terms of a romance film.

The one shining grace I can find in Carol is the score by Cater Burwell. It’s a fantastic string accompaniment, and actually makes the few scenes where it plays quite good. I’m listening to it as I write the review, and it is the best thing of the film. It manages to be forlorn and melancholic, symbolising the almost certainly doomed relationship but also charmingly hopeful that Carol and Therese might be able to live happily ever after once the credits have rolled.

In the end, I was disappointed with Carol. After hearing such rave reviews I was hoping for a stellar love story, but what I got was two characters with hardly any charisma and no audience through-line (none that I could find anyway). But I guess with every other critic putting Carol in their top films of the year, it’s going to find its way to the top of the box office and the Awards season.

Score: 3/10 How did something so lauded have such a negative response with me?

 

Tomb Raider Double Film Review

Preface

I love Tomb Raider and it’s heroine Lara Croft. Being the exact same age as myself, Tomb Raider was and has been a staple of childhood; I’m a fan of the games to my core. And while my enthusiasm may have waned with the last few instalments, my love for the character hasn’t. Lara Croft, like Ellen Ripley and Clarice Starling before her has become a poster-girl for empowered females in the media. And with rumblings of a new film coming along featuring current Lara voice actress Camilla Luddington as our dear Lara, I thought it would be fitting for a film review. So, without further ado, lets look at Lady Croft’s two forays into the film world, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and it’s sequel The Cradle Of Life.

Review

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is directed by Simon West stars Angelina Jolie in the title role, with Iain Glen as bad guy Manfred Powell, Daniel Craig as fellow tomb raider Alex West and Jon Voight as Lara’s father Lord Richard Croft. The story follows Lara’s journey to retrieve the powerful Triangle of Light before a sinister organisation.

Despite having a budget higher than the first The Lord Of The Rings film (another film that came out in the same year), the acting is all over the shop. Angelina Jolie does an almost caricatured plummy British accent to rival that of recent release A Royal Night Out, while Iain Glen is almost like a Bond villain, being ridiculously evil. Daniel Craig fares a bit better as a Nathan Drake-lite even if his American accent does fluctuate a few times in the film. This, along with Layer Cake, could have been his audition piece for the role of James Bond; it shows that he can do action with small inflections of humour throughout. But really, this is a video game film, so story is never one of its strong points; we’re here for the action, which is pretty incredible.

Fans of Tomb Raider will get a kick out of some of the locations of the action scenes, with certain locations being ripped from the games with very little changes. Cambodian temples, Siberian landscapes and ancient astronomy sets are a feast for the eyes, but the stunt work is what is to be admired here. Massive jumps, cartwheel backflips and some impressive bungee wirework make several of the fight scenes, even the one at the very beginning of the film fun to view, kudos to the stunt team for crafting several well executed stunts one after another.

As the film is fourteen years old, the CGI is pretty poor. It’s mainly confined to the middle of the film where stone statues in the aforementioned Cambodian temple come to life. The effects are pretty terrible; it’s so easy to see that the enemies have been put in post-production, even if the cast do a good job of fighting against thin air, hoping that some convincing enemies will be put in facing them.

In summary, not a great film, with only a few scenes, along with little nods to satisfy some diehard fans.

Score: 4/10 A pretty poor video game film, even if it is faithful to the source material.

Lara Croft: The Cradle Of Life

Angelina Jolie reprises her role as Lara Croft and is joined by Gerard Butler as former love interest Terry Sheridan, Ciaran Hinds as bad guy Jonathon Reiss, Djimon Honusou as friend/guide Kosa and Til Schweiger as Reiss’ sidekick, Sean. The directing chair this time has been moved over to Jan de Bont of SpeedEquilibrium and Die Hard fame. The Cradle of Life follows Lara once again trying to find a mythical artifact, this time Pandora’s Box, before Jonathan Reiss, a mad scientist/weapons manufacturer gets his hands on the evil that lays within the box.

The acting in the sequel is marginally better than the first. Jolie has dropped her plummy accent and it somehow makes her interpretation of the iconic character much better than in the first film. Everyone else seems to be doing rather good portrayals of their characters, with only Ciaran Hinds being over the top. But even when he is chewing the scenery, Jonathan Reiss is still believable character. Being a madcap scientist, it feels almost true to a character so mad that he would act like in the way he does.

Just like the first film, The Cradle of Life borrows a lot from its source material, and again, just like it’s predecessor, it copies certain chunks verbatim from console to screen. But as well as giving us some more stellar action sequences, the film also has a pretty good story, not just small talking sections between set pieces.

As Lara and Terry are former lovers, we get several scenes of them mentioning their past relationship, which serves to humanise our heroine instead of just painting her as an all-purpose badass who can take on anything, something which the first film seemed to revel in. No, in The Cradle of Life, Lara is bruised, beaten, falling back in love with a man she can’t trust and all the while, trying to stop a crazed man from ending the world. This conflict of emotions and feelings brings out the essence of what Lara Croft was designed as by her creator Toby Gard, the idea of “how far someone will go for their obsession,” and stepping over certain moral lines. What it gives us is someone heart-wrenching scenes where Lara is given two choices, and it’s very hard for her to choose the right one.

The stunts and action set pieces are some of the best put to film, and I don’t say that lightly. Gunfights that happen while sliding down ropes, motorbikes chases, as well as a spectacular wingsuit flight over Hong Kong are really fun to watch, and even better when you realise that shoddy CGI hasn’t been used for the bigger stunts.

That’s not to say CGI hasn’t been used. And its usage is pretty poor. The problem is the contrast. Either the background looks too washed out or the actor/actress does, making it abundantly clear when CGI has been used. It’s almost laughable that anyone approved such bad CGI as the shark that is used at the beginning of the film (that shark has become a meme of sorts in the Tomb Raider community) as well as Lara riding a motorbike along the Great Wall of China. The CGI is lessened the further the film goes on, with more reliance on practical stunt work, and the CGI even starts to get good at the end, with creepy shadow monsters looking halfway decent.

In summary, The Cradle Of Life is a film that builds on what worked in the first film, but has neglected to take out the things that didn’t work.

Score: 7/10 A very competent action film that still manages to deliver some humanity

Spooks: The Greater Good Review

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