“Spooks – The Greater Good”
Directed by Bharat Nalluri
I firmly believe that the BBC series “MI5” (or “Spooks” as it was known in the UK) may be the best suspense television show ever made. The spy show (nominated for eight Best Drama BAFTA’s and a one-time winner), had many of the ingredients most American procedurals lack: ACTUAL suspense, no hesitation to kill off major characters, phenomenal writing and EXCEPTIONAL acting by EXCEPTIONAL actors playing characters you actually cared about. The long list of lead performers on the show included David Oyelowo, Richard Armitage, Matthew MacFayden, Rupert Penry-Jones, and Hugh Simon. The actresses, many of whom have inexplicably not hit it big over here, are more than worthy of your efforts to find them, and include Nicola Walker, Hermione Norris, and the stunning Keeley Hawkes. I still tear up when re-imagining the quite horrible and unexpected deaths of at least two characters. “MI5” lasted ten seasons (perhaps one season too long) and its series finale ended with a ten-minute coda that was as moving and perfect a farewell as has ever graced a farewell episode.
So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I learned of a feature film being made as a continuation of the show. Thrilled because I had became so very invested in the characters and so heartbroken at its absence. Hesitant because…well…you’ve seen the “Sex In the City” movies? Or worse, “Entourage – The Movie”?
Well, I am happy to report it is much better than those. It’s certainly not a great film. It loses the plot a couple times (although always finds its way back) and I’m not sure it works if you don’t know the show. But the pacing is excellent, and character decisions feel like they matter, just as they always did on the show. Kit Harrington is fine…actually better than fine…he’s pretty good, as is the rest of the acting. The villain is a little underdeveloped and underwritten, but that’s not a huge draw back because…
…the SMARTEST thing the producers did was include the two ingredients which were the heart and soul of the show’s success: the character of Harry Pearce (played by the astonishing Peter Firth for all ten seasons) and the city of London. Firth says more with a wrinkle of his forehead than most can do with their entire bodies and he easily carries the weight of the picture. And as for the depiction of London…the show always had a very dark and saturated sheen to it…like the entire city was being lit by a fluorescent light. The film makes even better use of this effect and reminds you that the city was always more than a tourist destination…that it has a different meaning to Londoners and Brits in the same way that New York means something quite different to those of us who are from there. It has a different rhythm, pulse, and feel. I don’t exactly know why, but I’ve always been grateful to the show for that. In fact, THAT’s what makes the stakes seem so high on the show (and the film) and why if you watch just one episode you’ll become as insanely addicted as I to the world of Harry, and Tom, and Danny, and Zoe, and Ruth, and Roz, and Fiona, etc. etc…
So to sum up…if you loved the show, you’ll like the movie. If you’ve never seen the show then START. Unfortunately, it recently moved from netflix to hulu, but there is nothing on TV right now that is as consistently well written as “MI5” was. I, for one, hope they make a movie every year.
Alas, if you want to watch the film, good luck. There are currently no plans to release it in the US. You can get the DVD from amazon.co.uk, but you’ll need an all-region player to watch it. I did and I do. However, I’m sure it will eventually be released on a streaming service, which should give you plenty of time to watch the 86 television episodes which preceded it. And, whatever you do, avoid “MI5: Code 9” at all costs! It was a terrible attempt by the BBC to remake the show using Millenials. It’s just awful. Stick to the real thing.
Check Out MI-5: Season 1 Episode 1 on Hulu.
( http://www.hulu.com/watch/483225 )
Movie trailer here: