For the uninitiated, 'Spooks' (or MI5 as the Yanks say) was a British television show centered around MI5 spies (nicknamed Spooks and essentially the British NSA). Be under no illusions: this doesn't have blind patriotism, missing super-weapons or a suave chiseled hero. And while Kit Harington is the handsome lead star, the actual star is none other than long-time veteran Peter Firth.
Ah Peter Firth. Never has a older man with wrinkles and a receding hairline been so bad-ass. Firth is the blend of George Smiley and Jack Bauer, a very British and Un-Hollywood-y figure. And that's the key to The Greater Good's success: it feels fresh and oh so British that it may confuse the Yank audience expecting car chases and epic showdowns. Even the Arabic villain is sympathetic, never cartoonish or monologuing, and similar in part to Anwar al- Awlaki. Even a slightly simple Kit Harington fits perfectly in the thrilling spy jigsaw, being a disgraced case officer slightly too soft for such a cold world.
And yes, case officer. Not secret agent, as one is completely disposable and the other uses such people to achieve, yes, the Greater Good. Bond would not last in this world, and Bauer would make melodrama of decisions. Pierce would be break it down to cruel ugly arithmetic, one dies while two lives. As modern spy-craft goes, this is the most realistic to hit the big screen yet.
If you haven't seen the television series, this is a solid British spy movie with a thrilling storyline. If you have, some sweet Easter eggs will leave you smiling with secret glee. This feels like not a television movie but a gritty British film worthy of recognition. The actors, directing, setting compliment each other perfectly. It feels like going to a fancy restaurant and eating the greatest dish of Bangers and Mash. Simply thrilling and unafraid to let the audience think, this is a solid movie experience.
This is destined to have a sequel. If not, it at least is a beautiful little gem in a pile of stones.