The mere fact that a Spooks film even exists is an achievement in itself. After concluding its TV run on the BBC nearly four years ago after ten seasons, it’s probably fair to say that there wasn’t an audience clamouring for the film to be made. Whilst the series had success in the UK, internationally it found its audience limited. With its move to the big screen it brings with it some real star power in the form of Game of Throne’s Kit Harington, but how does the film standup alongside its fellow spy thriller brethren? Not badly at all, but it doesn’t excel either.
Whilst Kit Harington may be the poster boy, it’s Spooks mainstay Harry Pearce (Peter Firth, Pearl Harbor) who takes the meatiest role. He was the show’s longest serving character, and is one of the few to get any particularly significant action throughout. Firth’s enigmatic, battle weary hero is on the run from, and working against MI5 – the organisation he once served loyally – after the transfer of a terrorist leader goes awry leaving his position untenable. Looking for help in his (and his nation’s) time of need he turns to Harington’s Will, “the man who knows him the most”, whom was discharged from MI5 by Harry himself. Which is all well and good, but this isn’t a relationship that had previously been established in the show, leaving it feeling a touch tenuous as it’s barely fleshed out in their initial interactions.
Together they are working to track down the MI5 mole who sabotaged the aforementioned prisoner transfer gone awry, as well as the terrorist leader himself, who we’re told is particularly “charismatic”, and therefore even more dangerous. In reality Elyes Gabel is neither given a great deal to work with in his role as the terrorist leader, and nor does he convince entirely. In terms of the remaining two leads, Harington is serviceable, and his usual likeable self, and Firth is excellent as a character he has long had a firm grasp of.
It’s a well shot, crisply put together and generally well acted affair, but the script sadly isn’t as smart as it strives to be, and lacks any great deal of originality – it’s not going to be pulling up any trees, but it is very solid all round. There are certain points throughout the film where it threatens to build the momentum that might push it to the next level, but it’s not quite even enough to sustain this sufficiently to the degree where the film can move from solidity to greatness.
As to whether The Greater Good will prove to be the final chapter of the Spooks tale, time will tell – Peter Firth’s Harry provides an engaging enough character to deem the revisit to the series worthy, but the missteps in the scripting may mean that the film fails to expand its audience beyond its already established fan base.
A decent if unspectacular revival of the longstanding British TV staple, Spooks: The Greater Good finds strength in its lead character Harry, but a script that’s neither particularly subtle nor original holds the film back from being anything more than a fairly entertaining spy movie entry.
Rating (out of 5):