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