In Review: Spooks: The Greater Good

by Daniel Goodwin on 10/05/2015

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In our post-Tinker Taylor age with new Mission Impossible, Bond and revived Bourne vehicles on the horizon, the British spy series Spooks makes its cinematic debut as forerunner to the big guns. The plot unfurls with familiar genre trends, opening in London with a 007 style pre-credits sequence as a biker gang attempt to free a CIA prisoner from a convoy of security motors and all manner of mayhem ensues.

Following the disappearance of series regular, Intelligence Officer Harry Pierce (Peter Firth), ex whippersnapper agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) is deployed to track down the Operative. Meanwhile Pierce goes on the run to hunt a missing terrorist and uncover a possible MI5 mole.

Model plotting and sustained action inform the story of espionage and government subterfuge while utilising London as a glass conurbation in the shadow of a general election. Even though the central concept does at times seem trite, the infiltrating the secret service story echoes that of Skyfall (2012), excellent editing, direction and tightly paced narrative keeps The Greater Good on its feet through labyrinthine sub-plots, exposition and an obligatory web of intrigue.

There is not much time for character development, and some of the supporting characters are a tad flat, but the lack of over-extravagant set pieces is refreshing for an action thriller of this kind. Even though that probably has more to do with budget restrictions, the focus on plotting, serves a greater purpose than hollow spectacle while slighter, realistic action sequences are effective enough.

Gorgeous sweeping aerial wide shots of London present the city as a thriving metropolis and provide the film with a grander feel fitting to the medium. Meanwhile overlapping images of complex structures reflected in the windows of government vehicles suggest the tortuous stratagem beneath the story’s surface, despite most of the intimate interior scenes evoking the small screen roots.

Despite the occasional small screen feel, Spooks: The Greater Good is expertly directed by TV veteran Bharat Nalluri and is a treat for fans but still enjoyable for newcomers. There is also a decent Bond joke thrown in to lighten the terse drama. While it may not be a match for more established and cinematic spy franchises in terms of production value, it is a fine piece of film-making that stands strong in the field.

Daniel has awarded Spooks: The Greater Good three Torches of Truth

three torches

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