Jon Snow joins MI5 in this cerebral drama.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

After a successful TV show that ended in 2011. Spooks finally gets its own follow-up, this time on the big screen, titled Spooks: The Greater Good - which works mildly okay as a standalone film, but with so much backstory and character development already laid-down - this really is a movie for fans of the TV series.

Spooks: The Greater Good begins as all British films do, in the rain. With traffic backed up for what looks to be miles, two MI5 Agents (Tuppence Middleton & Michael Wildman) are stuck in a convoy which is transporting a deadly prisoner named Qasim (Elyes Gabel). But unfortunately the prison transport plan doesn’t quite pan out, as multiple riders approach the convoy on bikes - taking advantage of the clustered traffic.

Back at the MI5 Headquarters everyone is at their panic stations, unable to do much but look-on as the armed masked riders seize the advantage and declare an ultimatum to those watching - release the prisoner or face innocent bloodshed. Series regular and commander of this specific operation Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) begrudgingly complies, letting Qasim go and in the process facing complete embarrassment.

Sometime later, Harry - now having been demoted - goes off the grid; fearing greater politics at play and even a leak within the unit. Thus MI5 bosses reach out to Jon Sn- I mean Will Holloway (Kit Harington) who was once an Agent himself under the employ of MI5 and an underling of Harry’s - hoping he might be able to shed some light on the situation, or even pull Harry from hiding. What follows is a long twisting narrative thriller with back-stabbing and intrigue around every corner.

Though if you are looking for an action film, you won't find it here; Spooks: The Greater Good is far more cerebral than explosion, with a limited budget and staying true to the series it works well. Will Holloway likewise is the film's linchpin, our introduction to this world of spies and politics for those already not vested into the TV series.

The best part about Spooks: The Greater Good is how morally grey the whole thing feels. Instead of the biblical struggle between good against evil, Spooks: The Greater Good is a lot more ambiguous - I found myself identifying with the ‘bad guy’ of the film Qasim much more than those looking to kill or imprison him - speaking of which, Eyles American accent is really spot-on, you would never think he is a British actor - the way Qasim follows through with his actions aside; his motives feel a lot closer to a human struggle, than the bureaucracy he is ultimately fighting against.

Whether this was intentional or not is another story, I’d like to think it was and that ultimately the writers weren’t taking sides but attempting to tell the best story within that struggle instead.

Viewing Spooks: The Greater Good as a standalone film is wherein lies its true problem. It borrows very heavily not only in the foundation of the TV show - playing heavy emphasis on Harry’s past - and subsequently why you should even care about that character in the first place - but also in the pacing.

So much that it feels like a Spooks TV special, that you could see being on a BBC channel over the Christmas holiday, instead of a feature-length cinematic experience. For what it's aiming to do though, being an expansion of the Spooks TV show with just a bigger budget - it works perfectly.

If you are wanting the next Bourne film or looking for something high in testosterone, than you won’t find it in Spooks: The Greater Good - it’s far more of a slow burn, a staple of British drama and remaining faithful to the TV show from whence it came. If you are a fan of the show you will find a lot to like, remaining faithful just on a bigger budget and scale.

Spooks: The Greater Good is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    19th May 2015

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Not great standalone

    Feels like a BBC drama

  • Faithful to TV show

    Eyles Gabel

    Morally grey

Film Info

Spooks: The Greater Good Spooks: The Greater Good
Rating: 15
Release Date: 8th May
Runtime: 1 hr 44 mins
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Starring: Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Elyes Gabel, Jennifer Ehle & Eleanor Matsuura

  • The Sweeney
  • A Most Wanted Man
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

No. Scenes of execution and violence, plus dialog and story that children would not find entertaining.

Although it is inferred within the film that Will is connected to Harrys past - Kit Harringon has never been in an episode of Spooks.

Kit who plays Will also had to undergo special forces training by an ex-SAS member for his role.