Saturday, 10 October 2015

Spooks: The Greater Good

If you’re a fan of Kit Harington, then all you need to know about Spooks: The Greater Good is that he spends most of his screen time in the film wearing tight clothes, running around and fighting bad guys. He even ties his hair up in a man-bun in one scene. Sold? I thought you would be. But for those of you still unsure about the film – and rightly so – read on…

Bharat Nalluri directs Spooks: The Greater Good, out now on DVD & Blu-Ray. When Qasim - a young but feared terrorist - escapes custody during a routine handover, it looks as though someone on the inside helped him get away. Will Holloway (Kit Harington) must team with disgraced MI5 Intelligence Chief Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) to track the traitor down, as well as the terrorist himself, before an imminent terrorist attack on London. The plot is all a bit predictable, but most thrillers are these days. Don’t expect any strong John le Carré twists, The Greater Good is a very mainstream and easy film – right down to the rather obvious and underwhelming traitor reveal at the climax. But for an easy popcorn-muncher thriller like this, who cares? There are attempts to inject Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-esque twists to the proceedings but each time, you just feel like giving the film a pat on the back and saying “nice try”. Still, the cast work well with what they’re given. Or do they?

I’ve never been a big fan of Kit Harington. I like Game of Thrones, don’t get me wrong – but he just isn’t that good an actor. I’d argue that Jon Snow, and his story, are one of the weakest parts of the series, although this is coming from someone who loves the much-derided Stannis plotline. But I digress. Most of Harington’s fans like him for his pretty face, granted. They seem oblivious to the fact he just isn’t that good. And that’s mostly why he’s here in The Greater Good. Like Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps or Josh Hutcherson in Escobar: Paradise Lost – it’s simply a ploy to sell more tickets for a film that, otherwise, many people might not be interested in. I’ve never watched the Spooks series but I can’t imagine there’s a huge number of fans left – although it was a highly regarded show, it finished 4 years ago and has been replaced by countless BBC programmes since. Still, for those who do still care, although The Greater Good has a new lead, you can still expect appearances from several characters from the series – most notably, Peter Firth returning as Harry Pearce. Firth is the most talented actor in the film, and his performance and character have made me almost tempted to give the series a look. Almost. In any case, fans of the show or him will surely be happy with the results here. He gets a lot of screen time and is arguably the second lead, despite the initial marketing for the film being Kit Harington: The Movie. Still, the film doesn’t seem to have forgotten its TV roots, because despite a wide aspect ratio the visuals scream out TELEVISION. It just has that made-for-TV look. Is it trying to recreate the look of the show, or is it just cheap? Who knows.

But, as with many films set in the capital, there is one performance and presence that shines above its human co-stars. London. With 90% of the action unfolding there – something we can’t forget due to constant aerial establishing shots in almost every scene transition – London feels like a character in itself. Due to the film’s focus on surveillance and somewhat technical side of espionage, London feels a perfect setting due to its modern, if not futuristic, sprawling aesthetic. And unlike Hyena, which made London feel like more of a wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley spaceport, The Greater Good almost makes it seem inviting, despite that dark tone of the narrative.

So, in conclusion, is The Greater Good worth your time? Again, I haven’t seen the series, so this film hasn’t had the same effect on me that I’m sure it would on a big fan of the show. But for what it is, it succeeds. It kept me entertained and interested, it didn’t take much of my evening, and it didn’t leave me angry or disappointed like some films I review. It is what it is, and it knows that. The Greater Good is a rather average, predictable little British thriller. But it’s a fun little watch. Spooks: The Greater Good is forgettable and average through-and-through, but delivers an entertaining enough couple of hours.

Spooks: The Greater Good gets 3/5.


Sam Love

Spooks: The Greater Good at CeX

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