On your left, a ter­ror­ist plot be­ing foiled . . .

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD Di­rected by Bharat Nal­luri. Star­ring Peter Firth, Kit Har­ing­ton, Jen­nifer Ehle, Elyes Ga­bel, Lara Pul­ver, Tim McIn­nerny. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 103 min Sorry? What now? It’s been a full four years since Spooks, the popular BBC spy se­ries, splut­tered to a halt. En­coun­ter­ing a straight-up se­quel in cine­mas is akin to meet­ing a big-screen take on What­ever Hap­pened to the Likely Lads? In the in­terim, Game of Thrones has swollen into a phe­nom­e­non and, thus, Kit Har­ing­ton, threat­en­ing break­out from Wes­teros, ends up be­ing more of a sell­ing point than sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Spooks cast. All very pe­cu­liar.

The film passes the time per­fectly tol­er­a­bly, but it is no more com­fort­able in this less in­ti­mate medium than were an­cient movie ver­sions of The

Sweeney and Cal­lan. Events kick off with the de­cently staged spring­ing of a danger­ous ter­ror­ist from heav­ily guarded detention in rainy Lon­don. The vil­lain is, of course, tied up with all sorts of apoc­a­lyp­tic mis­chief and his re­lease spreads chaos through the ser­vice. Big cheese Colin Firth goes miss­ing and Har­ing­ton is dragged from the shad­ows to put the pieces back to­gether.

En­thu­si­asts for the genre will be de­lighted to hear that the phrase “What hap­pened in Ber­lin?” is both bel­lowed and whis­pered at regular in­ter­vals. No spy film should be re­leased with­out those words be­ing ut­tered. Spooks afi­ciona­dos will, how­ever, be slightly frus­trated that the show’s char­ac­ters are forced into the back­ground. At the ad­min­is­tra­tion level, we hear a great deal of Jen­nifer Ehle speak­ing tensely as if try­ing to re­main calm while pass­ing a kid­ney stone. Har­ing­ton is by far the busiest man on the shop floor.

Still, as mid-rank­ing spy stuff goes, The Greater Good is pretty nippy. It cer­tainly works well as a Lon­don trav­el­ogue. There’s the Shard. Here’s The Lon­don Eye. An as­sas­sin even gets to take a shot from the bal­cony of the Na­tional Theatre. Keep it down, mate. The mati­nee’s about to start.

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