Film review: Spooks: The Greater Good

Spooks may have won over TV audiences on the BBC, but its big screen adaptation is just too silly, says Michael Joyce.

For the blessed elite with their Sky Atlantic subscriptions this may well be a Golden Age of Television, but the wretched, snivelling, Freeview masses know that beneath the summit, there’s a really steep drop off. (Unless you ever so humbly download or stream illegally.) The BBC’s MI5 drama Spooks lasted 10 seasons before finishing in 2012, and had a best-of-the-rest reputation I believe, based on its pace, slick production values and willingness to unexpectedly kill off lead characters. Even so, it’s a fairly random choice for a big screen resurrection.

The plot involves the leader of MI5 Harry Pearce (Firth) being disgraced and forced to resign after allowing the CIA’s most wanted terrorist to escape. He believes though that it was all part of a traitorous plot to discredit the service and cause it to be disbanded, allowing the CIA to take over our nation’s security. So he goes back to uncover the truth. Meanwhile decommissioned spook Will Holloway (Game of Throne’s Harrington) is brought back to flush him out and spends the whole film getting ping ponged around in a game of who-to-trust.

You can see why they gave him the boot. Although he affects a cynical and world-weary air, he is pathetically eager to believe whatever the last person told him. You can see the hurt in his eyes whenever he discovers he’s been lied to; like a puppy who keeps getting tricked into chasing after unthrown sticks.

Spooks the film looks snazzy enough with its God’s (or at least London) Eye view of the capital’s landmarks: it opens with a helicopter shot of the City’s naughty step of misshapen skyscrapers against a drizzly grey sky which is a quintessential modern London image. The problem is it is really stupid. Like 24 stupid, but at half the speed and done with the vague air that it should be taken seriously. For example, when they think they have set up a clandestine meet between Pearce and Holloway, the undercover surveillance squad turn up in a fleet of identical black, hugely conspicuous Range Rovers.

Rating: 4/5 stars

For a review of Bob Hoskins in the Blu-ray release of The Long Good Friday go to