Adem Qasim, Bond, Bourne, Cinema, Elyes Gabel, Film, Game of Thrones, Harry Pearce, James Bond, Jon Snow, Kit Harington, MI5, Mission Impossible, Peter Firth, Spooks, Spooks : The Greater Good, Spy, Television, TV, Will Holloway
I loved “Spooks”; it was brutal, honest, and exuded intelligence. It was a pulsating and consistently interesting television show, because the writers were constantly pulling the rug from underneath the audience, killing off leading characters here, there, and everywhere. Furthermore, it concluded in a really pleasing manner for a series that spanned ten seasons, because after so many episodes it’s incredibly difficult to end things in a way that satisfies the fans whilst also maintaining artistic integrity in the story being told, but it managed to do both of those things.
So, imagine my surprise when I heard that this movie was being made, and that “Spooks” would live on despite the fact that it felt as though a complete tale had been told. I was admittedly worried that “Spooks : The Greater Good” would sully my memory of ten wonderful seasons of television, because nothing about how it ended dictated that it should ever be continued. However, in actual fact this movie is strong enough to quell those concerns; it isn’t a magnificent or innovative take on the spy movie genre, but it certainly isn’t a bad film.
Comparisons to “Bourne” and “Bond” are unfounded, because this movie isn’t about one man gunning down dozens of unnamed enemies, it’s about an organisation and its intricacies, and exploring how the nature of said organisation impacts the people within it. That’s where “Spooks” separates itself from other films and television series of the same ilk, and it’s what makes it so compelling for me. This isn’t a film about sex-crazed men in suits killing the bad guys and saving the day, it’s more thoughtful than that, and although that means that it’s slow at times, I much prefer this take on the genre.
If you’re expecting massive explosions, a weaving and large-scale story, and a whole heap of violence, there’s a chance you’ll be disappointed. Although I enjoyed the movie, I’m aware that I came into it with a certain bias having loved the series, and this could’ve altered my perception of the film’s quality as a result. “Spooks : The Greater Good” feels a lot like a continuation of the series which preceded it, which to me is a wonderful thing, but for someone previously uninterested in it, it might not have the same appeal. It doesn’t really feel like a feature film, it feels more like a longer episode of a very well-made but small scale British television show, which definitely isn’t going to please everyone.
“Spooks : The Greater Good” revolves around the escape of Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) from MI5 custody, and the subsequent impact that this has on Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), as he fakes his own death in order to expose a traitor within his agency. In order to stay out of MI5’s reach Harry uses former agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) as an unlikely ally, and together they use their skills to track down Qasim.
As I have said, I liked this film, but it’s far from perfect. One of its biggest problems is that certain plot points are simply unbelievable, in the negative sense. There are a lot of plot holes when you examine the finer points of Harry’s plan, and although it could appear to be clever to a casual viewer, to anyone paying proper attention it will seem a bit silly. Most of the big moments in which Harry’s plan comes together rely heavily on luck, and on others agreeing to his demands, which is annoying because it never really feels right that such a seasoned spy would leave things up to chance.
The opening scene, in which Qasim escaped an MI5 convey, was interesting and introduced us to our antagonist immediately, but it didn’t give any indication of what he was capable of or how evil he happened to be. It wasn’t clear what this man had done or what he was going to do, so I had no reason to care about his escape, which is fine if you display his malevolence moments later, but I felt that we didn’t see the true extent of his ruthlessness until the final ten minutes.
The performances were adequate, but some of the actors were underutilised, and the characters were underdeveloped. Qasim and Will are particularly underdeveloped, which is a shame because they are both played by very capable actors, and their characters are teased as having exciting and deep backstories. I’m a big fan of Kit Harington, because like many people I love “Game of Thrones”, so I was hoping that this film would allow him to showcase his acting ability and make me believe that there is a future for him as an action star. Sadly “Spooks : The Greater Good” doesn’t do that, leading me to wonder how good it could’ve been if more care was taken to flesh out each character and delve into their past.
Peter Firth is really great as Harry, just as he was in the television series, but the story focused too much him for my liking. Although Firth was the shining light of this film, I felt that he should’ve been there as a background figure creating continuity with the show, rather than as the figurehead of the entire movie. (SPOILER ALERT) Harry’s arc in this film was somewhat disappointing, because for me it soured the finale of the series, due to the fact that he seemed to have gotten over Ruth’s (Nicola Walker) death, to an extent, and by the end he couldn’t even visit her grave!
“Spooks : The Greater Good” isn’t the best movie you’ll see this year, and things did feel slightly underwhelming at certain points, but it’s a pretty solid movie and it was well-made. It felt like a prolonged episode of the television series, which for a fan like me was great, but for someone with no attachment to the show it could seem slightly lacklustre. All in all I enjoyed this film, it has its issues, but it was 90 minutes of intrigue and for me it was as good as anyone could’ve expected.