Thursday, 14 May 2015

Review: Spooks - The Greater Good

World of Blackout Film Review

Spooks: The Greater Good Poster

Spooks: The Greater Good
Cert: 15 / 104 mins / Dir. Bharat Nalluri / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Now, most reviews you read of Spooks: The Greater Good will spend time concentrating on comparing the movie to its TV counterpart and the transition from small-to-big screen. I won't be doing that. I believe firmly that cinematic entertainment should be able to stand on its own merit and that there should be no intellectual 'price of entry' for projects such as this. Also, I've never watched the TV series. Whatever, I was always more of a Life On Mars/Hustle kinda guy...

So the tense, frowny, humourless spies of MI5 come bursting onto our theatrical screens with a story of tattle-tales, terrorism and trust-issues. I spent the first half of the film feeling slightly disheartened that it's so pedestrian for an adaptation of such a successful franchise, then I remembered that the po-faced, faux-complex attitude to storytelling is exactly what put me off the TV show in the first place. The film is entertaining enough in its own way, but fails to break any new ground when it comes to cinematic spy-stories. That said, the room-sweeping techniques used in the opening action-sequence are atrocious. And I say that as someone who's only ever shot digital people before (honest, guv). On one hand the film goes for hardened realism, and on the other it ignores one of the most important aspects of the field-work (when [REDACTED] gets shot, [REDACTED] bloody deserves it).

The narrative itself is relatively well executed, but is hampered by a clunky, over-acted script (Tim McInnerny seems to be channelling 'Cartoon Villain No 1'), and the kind of expository dialogue which people only say when they're trying to surreptitiously convey a message to an unseen listener hidden in the room. There also seems to be a sub-narrative about commercial globalisation which, in another draft of the script, could have added some depth to the story, rather than just being mentioned every twenty minutes in passing with a shake of the head.

Inexplicably, Kit Harrington escapes the film artistically unscathed, but after his track record with Pompeiii, Seventh Son and Silent Hill, it's about time he got a break from being the worst thing in a bad film. Also on the plus side, if this film had been made in the US, it would star Liam Neeson, have a one-word title and a script to match. Credit where it's due, I suppose.

There's little here that you couldn't get by watching any number of TV channels of an evening. Despite the extended running time, Spooks: The Greater Good is unable to shake its TV-drama credentials. It's by no means awful, but it's staggeringly average. Most importantly, it's not a film…

Oh, and if you work for a highly secretive organisation, is is a thing whereby they make you have a desktop wallpaper that's the logo or crest of that highly secretive organisation? Because it seems to be a thing in MI5 no less than in other less 'realistic' films. I mean, I can have anything I want for mine, then again I only work for an engineering firm, and I don't get to kill people when I'm away from my desk. Honest, guv.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Not really.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Wait for it to be on telly. It's not a film, after all.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
In Kit Harington's case, there's no such thing.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh, probably.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Spooks: The Greater Good stars Tuppence Middleton, who also appeared in The Imitation Game, alongside Keira 'Sabé' Knightley.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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