Spooks: The Greater Good

Well, wasn’t this a game of two halves? On one hand, yes, it follows on from where Spooks ended on TV, albeit a few years down the road. It has several returning characters from that cast which gives a sense of continuity, most notably Peter Firth as Sir Harry Pearce, who is absolutely the focus of the story at hand. On the other hand, this is a film. It’s directed like a film and even the script takes it into different areas to the TV series. There’s less of a team feeling here – which was always the vibe in Spooks –  and people working in ‘The Grid’ are seldom seen, although the film does climax there.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I liked Spooks: The Greater Good. Everything felt ‘same same but different’ if I can put it that way. But once I settled into the plot and tried to see Kit Harrington as someone other than Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (even though he has the same ridiculous hairstyle here), things got moving and, on the whole, I think the movie was fine. Even pretty good in places if I’m being fair.

The question is, was the movie needed at all? The TV series actually wrapped in a really good way – which is rare for TV series’ in general. I felt it signed off on all the characters well, and even brought a tear to my eye. Stick a fork in it, we’re done. So to come back to The Grid, and to have Harry go rogue again (something he did a few times in the TV series), and to throw in an ending that really defies belief in a lot of ways (although it’s precisely this ending that lends ‘the greater good’ to the film’s title), the film becomes this weird and unnecessary sort of coda to the series and, thankfully not one that you need to watch, or even need to believe in, if it wasn’t to your tastes. So there’s that.

But I did say earlier that the film’s fine – and I honestly believe that, too. See what I mean about this being a game of two halves? It’s well shot and the plot keeps proceedings rolling along, I was never yawning or looking at the time, despite watching this late on a Friday night after a big week at work, when if something bores me, I’d be asleep in minutes. So on this other hand, I can absolutely recommend it as a good film to put on and enjoy if you like MI5, counter-terrorism stuff. Although having raised those themes, the film does spend so much time on Harry and what he’s doing, that the terrorist’s and their plot is only wallpaper. In an episode of Spooks, their cell would have been infiltrated and we would have known a lot more about them as people. Here, not so much.

Perhaps some of my conflict here is that I literally watched all 80-plus hours of Spooks recently, in the space of a month. Its characters, storylines, indeed the whole rhythm of the TV series is in me at present. That wouldn’t be the case with most viewers, who either saw the series years earlier, in six to ten episode bites a year, or maybe didn’t see it at all. As this is something different to the TV series, I guess it would always feel a bit jarring, regardless of whatever they did with the script. To which end, it even concludes with Harry committing an act pulled straight from one of the latter TV series episodes which left me feeling we’d already seen him do that before, so the effect was much lessened for me.

In the end, Spooks: The Greater Good gives a different sense of closure to the TV series. At the end of the series, you felt absolutely satisfied with the ending, but also felt the concept could be resurrected with the same cast down the line. And I guess that’s what happened to some degree with this film. But the ending of this film, aside from feeling less satisfying in some ways, also leaves you feeling that if Spooks was to return to TV, that it would need to be a full reboot. I wonder if it will, dear reader?

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