Film review – Spooks: The Greater Good

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Spooks: The Greater Good

Gritty British espionage thriller, starring Peter Firth and Kit Harrington.

Unless you’ve been living on a desert island for the last ten years, you’ll probably be aware of the hit series, Spooks, which might perhaps best be described as a British 24.
Focusing on homeland security agency, MI5, the TV show ran for a decade and featured a veritable Who’s Who of homegrown acting talent, including the likes of Richard Armitage, Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry Jones and Matthew Macfadyen. The rock in this often stormy sea of spies was Peter Firth, playing the steadfastly resolute Harry Pearce … or should I say, Sir Harry Pearce, to give him his full – and well-earned – title.
Always the moral touchstone for those around him, Pearce was a pillar of the secret community, often sniffing out moles personally, while developing and frequently curtailing the boisterous cavalcade of agents under his control.

There’s no need to have seen any of the series prior to viewing this movie – the back-story is sufficiently dealt with early on – but there are a number of welcome nods to it and a few nice touches and old faces along the way for the more loyal fan.
The story focuses on the rocky relationship between Langley and London with the CIA ultimately looking to take control of MI5’s base of operations on the Thames, and from the off it appears it’s not just the Americans who’d like to see a change of direction.
As per usual with the genre, there’s someone on the inside : the question is “Who ?”
The second question is “Who can be trusted ?”
For Harry Pearce, the answer is seemingly nobody.
Forced to take the fall for a failed operation in his own backyard, the former agency head goes to ground and calls on the son of an old friend for help, a fateful last throw of the dice from a desperate man.

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Game Of Thrones fans might be thrown off seeing the North’s very own Jon Snow running through the streets of Moscow, but soon enough you forget about the furs and the snow as Kit Harrington – playing Will Holloway – takes a firm grip on the 21st century, rocking retro adidas sneakers and a hoody throughout. He might look like a kid from the streets – and in many ways he is – but he can play Whitehall’s game as well.
The pair form an unlikely and uneasy alliance as they look to unearth the mole and put MI5 back on track.
Though Holloway first appears in Russia, there’s very little cold war style action as this time round it’s the turn of the more typical middle-eastern terrorists looking to turn the heads of the British public as they seek to ramp up awareness of how corrupt our own government is .. as if we needed to know, following a general election !

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The plot twists and turns as much as fans of the show would expect it too, and there’s some highly original and very creative takes on some of the regular set pieces you’d expect to see in any Bond/Bourne/Bauer script, most noticeably inside MI5’s HQ itself.
The denouement is brilliantly satisfying and does full justice to all the characters involved in every way possible … but I won’t give you any details, of course. It’s on a need-to-know basis, after all.

If you enjoyed the more realistic Daniel Craig Bond movies but haven’t seen the TV show, I’d thoroughly recommend it as a good starting point. It’s then up to you if you choose to watch ten series of the thing – personally, I loved every minute of both the original and this big screen version.

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