Say what you will about Hollywood espionage thrillers, the Brits have them all beat when it comes to emphasizing politics over geopolitics.
It seems they never quite got over Tony Blair’s embrace of George W. Bush’s war. Thus, “maintaining our independence” is the ever-present under-current in most of their movies in this genre. “MI-5” is the latest. They don’t want the CIA and the USA running their intelligence service.
The British TV series “MI-5,” called “Spooks” across the pond, gets a big screen tale in “MI-5,” titled “Spooks: The Greater Good” in the UK.
It’s a heaping helping of somewhat polite terrorism, treachery within Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the unseen heavy hand of the CIA and bit of the old ultra-violence — TV friendly variety.
The language may be the most violent thing about it.
“I’ll cut your baby of her and drown it in a toilet,” the section chief Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) threatens the Arab American terrorist (Elyes Gabel) at one point. By phone.
“Was the baby (bit) too much?” he asks a subordinate after hanging up.
“No. It’s you.”
At its most basic, “MI-5” is a means of cashing in 0n the popularity of “Game of Thrones” hunk Kit Harington. He wears the same long curls and hurls himself into the role of a discredited agent summoned back to help when the boss (Pearce) suspects turncoats in the agency helped the wanted terrorist get away before being handed over to the CIA.
Will Holloway has ex-colleagues warning him to not get involved, that the boss is daft or turned himself. So there’ll be no rogue agent stuf, this time, right?
“Do NOT go dark. Do you hear me?”
Go dark is what Holloway does, down a rabbit hole, trying to do the disgraced boss’s bidding, root out the moles and prevent Islamists from carrying out a big attack on London.
It’s all over-the-top, in a TV series sort of way. Smaller terrorist acts happen, chases are rendered mundane and there is much pointing of guns at Will only to have Will take the gun from the crack agent pointing it at him.
Jennifer Ehle (“Zero Dark Thirty,” TV’s “Pride and Prejudice”) is the unflappable higher-up who never over-reacts, even when all hell breaks loose. Tim McInerny (“Notting Hill,” and Percy from TV’s “Blackadder”) over-reacts, here and there, as the boss presiding over this trainwreck.
David Harewood also stars, and an actress to be adored simply by virtue of her veddy-British name — Tuppence Middleton of “The Imitation Game” and “Trance.”
There’s little novelty to any of this, just a lot of scampering between Moscow, London and Berlin.
“You and Harry ever talk about Berlin?”
Standard issue spy stuff, a surprise or two, a shootout or three. Nothing you should pay money to see in a theater.
MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language
Cast: Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle
Credits: Directed by Bharat Nalluri, script by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley. A Saban Films release.
Running time: 1:44