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Directed by: Bharat Nalluri
Starring: Peter Firth, Kit Harington, Jennifer Ehle & Elyes Gabel
Spooks now follows the footsteps of other television shows that have been on the receiving end of the big screen treatment. I can’t say that I was ever an avid watcher of Spooks but my former flatmate was a fan so I’m aware of what it’s all about.
Charismatic terrorist Adam Qasim (Elyes Gabel) escapes from MI5 custody during a routine handover. Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), Head of Counter-terrorism, is blamed. After being publicly disgraced and forced to resign, no-one is surprised when Harry disappears one night off a bridge into the Thames. MI5 is on its knees in the wake of the Qasim debacle and facing controversial reform, former agent Will Crombie (Kit Harington) is brought back to uncover the truth that Harry is still alive. He’s gone rogue, and needs Will’s help. As Qasim prepares his devastating attack on the heart of MI5 in London, Will must decide whether to turn Harry in – or risk everything by trusting the damaged, dangerous master spy who has already betrayed him once before.
I’m mixed. Spooks works as a TV show, but as a feature film something just doesn’t seem right. The absurdities are all too often exposed. There is a standout performance from Peter Firth, who appeared in every episode of the series, as Harry Pearce, who suspects there may be some backhanders going on at the heart of British intelligence. Jennifer Ehle adds depth as his enigmatic colleague. I love the way Bharat shows off his London locations. From Heathrow to Waterloo Bridge, the West End to Whitehall. No opportunity is lost for high-angle shots of the city and for panoramas of its historic buildings and skyscrapers.
What matters most, though, are the chases, explosions, bluffs and double crosses, all staged at such a relentless tempo there is no time to notice the cracks in the storyline.
Where does this rank amongst other spy films? It’ obvious that this is directed towards a British audience and at times, it’s stranded in no-man’s land between 007 and George Smiley. The very British eccentricity is part of the appeal.
Rating: *** (Aye it’s cannie like)