It has been four years since the BBC series Spooks finished after an epic ten series run. It seems it’s not time for the spies to hang up their hats just yet. This time, it is returning to the big screen rather than the small with Spooks: The Greater Good.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri and working with one of the original scriptwriters for the series (David Wolstencroft), the film brings well-loved characters back to the screen. After ten series, one would think new stories would be hard to come by. There are moments where the pacing is slow and there are perhaps too many twists over who can be trusted and who is a threat, but Spooks remains just as entertaining when it first appeared on television in 2002.
Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) is no longer sure who he can trust after a high-priority prisoner is helped to escape. With MI5 under scrutiny and threat, Harry takes it upon himself to disappear. Hunting down the missing criminal on his own, Harry must take risks with both the enemy and his own side as they attempt to bring him in. MI5 send Will Holloway (Kit Harrington) after Harry as their supposed shared past (never a character mentioned in the show though) provides a personal incentive to get the job done.
Firth is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Harry as he always was, the only character to have made it through this long. Only he would be able to provide a performance that keeps the audience guessing at what precisely is going on – his portrayal of a man who is either a genius or a madman is subtly worked. Harrington is a rising name on the big screen this year and has proven himself as the action-hero type. When compared to the other “main men” that have been shown throughout the series, he fits in well. Harrington brings to life a man who knows to listen to his instincts and doubts trust. That being said, it was already clear Harrington could play the troubled, serious young man with father issues – he’s done it before.
Although the action and the level of threat are there, the film would have worked as effectively as being the length of the old episodes rather than being over an hour and a half. While the plot line was gripping enough so they could just get away with it, there were moments that seemed to drag. When it isn’t apparent who can be trusted, scenes without momentum are dubious – is the conversation relevant or is it with a double-crosser?
However, for old time’s sake, the film was enjoyable. In the way that Spooks always managed before, it provided sheer entertainment. Whether it will spark a new following (Harrington’s name alone might draw a new audience) remains to be seen. But for those who watched the series, it stayed true to both the tone and the characters and felt like a fond trip down memory lane.