Spooks: The TV Movie
Although it’s still enjoyable even if you haven’t seen the TV series, the Spooks movie struggles to escape its limited budget and narrow scope, feeling more an extended TV special than a big screen outing.Whilst it maintains the same levels of double-crossing and political manipulation that the series was famous for, and whilst it has just about the same levels of wanton disregard for the lives of key characters (across the decade that the series ran, almost every single lead character ended up going off the rails or being killed, or both), having to cram everything into a 100 minute instalment leaves many of the plot twists either obvious or contrived (or both), and the loss or betrayal of key characters largely ineffective because you simply haven’t had enough time to care about them. Still, even if it doesn’t come anywhere near achieving the lofty ideals it aims for – it’s far from Bourne Meets Mission: Impossible, as the cover quote suggests - this is still a graduation from the scale of the TV show, with armed assaults, snipers, explosions, car crashes and even a little parkour thrown into the mix.Spooks veteran Peter Firth, who played the Head of the Counterterrorism department, Harry Pearce, throughout the entire run of the series, easily makes the transition to this more streamlined outing, going on the run after he takes the blame for a terrorist getting away, and hunted down by ex MI5 agent Will Holloway. Game of Thrones stalwart, Kit Harrington, brings his particularly pained and sorrowful form of acting to the piece as Will, which certainly fits right into the whole Spooks ethos, even if his running, jumping and fighting only remind you that this is far from Bourne. Ultimately, Spooks’ big screen incarnation tries to have its cake and eat it; setting itself up as a modern day Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but playing out with intentions to best Bond, and never really escaping its small screen origins. That said, there’s one thing The Greater Good proves: it’s nice to have Spooks back.
There’s no denying that the big screen rendition of Spooks looks pretty impressive in all its HD glory.
Presented with a 1080p AVC-encoded HD rendition, the series has been promoted to the more cinematic scope of 2.40:1 widescreen, which definitely gives it a broader feel. Detail still remains striking, with skin textures observed with clinical precision and close-ups excellent, whilst background nuances are finely detailed and the rich UK settings lovingly rendered. An early slo-mo-ish moment draws in a hint of blurring, but, for the most part the clarity doesn’t let up, and whilst the colour scheme is inherently restricted by the West Europe (and predominantly London-based) settings, lavish mahogany-dominated interiors provide rich environments, whilst exterior flats and gardens look pretty impressive too. Skin tones are healthy and black levels are strong. It may not make for perfect reference material, but much of it is demo-worthy and most of it praiseworthy.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio track is also pretty impressive.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently – from the whispers to the shouts – largely rendered from across the fronts and centre channels, whilst effects, nominally limited to environmental noises that bring streets, traffic jams, bustling MI5 offices and gala dinners to life, but peppered with strong more powerful elements in the form of close-quarters combat, myriad gunshots, and even a few explosions which give the surrounds – and the LFE channel – far more to do. The score is suitably engaging, whilst also perfectly suited to the series, never quite remaining memorable, but working within the confines of this universe. Overall, not quite demo standard, it’s still a strong offering.
ExtrasA 10-minute Making-Of Featurette provides a strong and surprisingly comprehensive overview of the production, with cast and crew snippets and lots of behind the scenes footage blended in with the requisite film clips. There are also over half a dozen short Cast and Crew Interviews with all the key players, offering input into the story, the production and their roles in it. Five minutes of Deleted Scenes add little more to the proceedings, beyond spelling out things we largely get told about anyway, and the Trailer rounds off the disc.
Whilst not exactly a convincing cinematic outing, on the small screen The Greater Good does make you yearn for more Spooks.
This Region B locked UK Blu-ray boasts strong video and audio and a solid selection of extra features, making it a good purchase for fans of the film - and indeed the series. With any luck this won't be the end of Spooks, although it may be more enjoyable to have another series rather than another only half-successful attempt at big screen glory.
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