For a television series to successfully make the leap from the small-screen to the big-screen, it has to appeal to both fans and newcomers alike. Not only must it maintain the spirit of the source material, and include references to previous events, but it has to appeal to a whole new audience too, by taking the story in a fresh directon. Spooks: The Greater Good, based on the popular BBC show, gets the balance just right, but fails to completely justify its cinematic release.
The story centres around Sir Harry Pearce, one of the few surviving members of the original series, who leaves MI5 after a terrorist escapes their custody, during what should have been a routine handover. When it appears that the escape could have been aided by somebody from inside MI5, Pearce enlists the help of the recently decommissioned agent, Holloway, to stop an attack from taking place in London and in doing so, find the mole within the organisation.
As a Spooks virgin prior to seeing The Greater Good, I went in worried that I would feel left out a little. There are certainly moments within the film that only a fan of the series will understand – both my brother and mother fall into that category – with some cameos from series regulars, references to previous character deaths, and hardly any kind of character development whatsoever.
As a first experience with the material though, I enjoyed it immensely, albeit with some reservations. All the usual spy tropes are here, with enough twists and turns to keep you constantly guessing who is double crossing who. There’s some fantastic moments of high tension too, one of which had literally had me on the edge of my seat.
From what I’ve been told, the series is renowned for killing off its lead characters and within this film, I defiantly got the sense that anybody was expendable and could bite the bullet at any minute – which makes for a nice change of pace from the invincible likes of James Bond.
This stems from the sense of reality that Spooks creates. This isn’t Mission: Impossible, where you have the huge and elaborate set pieces, nor is it a Bourne film, where you have those brutal and blistering action sequences. This feels like it’s set in the ‘real world’ of spying, that’s separate from all the guns and glamour that we’ve become used to.
The problem is that you do kind of miss the guns and glamour. Spooks: The Greater Good is entertaining, but it’s hardly cinematic. Despite a bigger budget, the film is sorely lacking the injection of spectacle that would have at least have justified its cinematic worth. The action sequences are few and far between, and the finale, which takes place in a room, is disappointingly lacklusting.
One if my biggest concerns with the film though, is the casting of Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington, who is fastly becoming one of my least favourite actors of the moment. His character is arguabky unnecessary and often annoying, as his whiny daddy issues being to tire very quickly. Also, it’s difficult to take him seriously as a spy, when he looks like he’s just walked out of an advert for Topman.
Harrington aside though, Spooks: The Greater Good is still entertaining and exciting enough for me to recommend. I don’t think it belongs on the big-screen – it’s a really good piece of television, but just an okay-ish piece of cinema – but fans will most likely enjoy it, and it did enough to make me want to seek out the series. If you can’t make it to your local cinema to watch it though, I wouldn’t be too worried about it.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com