Possible spoilers ahead!
Relax, you didn’t miss a new Mission Impossible sequel. This post is about the 2015 film “MI-5” which was based on the TV show “Spooks” that ran on the BBC for ten seasons, from 2002-2011. If that name doesn’t ring a bell it’s probably because here In the U.S. the show was known as “MI-5.” I never watched the show, but I do remember it being on my local PBS station for some reason.
Anywho, the fact “MI-5” ran for a decade tells me the series must have had a dedicated following, but that’s the main problem the movie faces. For some one like me who didn’t watch the show, the first few minutes of “MI-5,” felt like I walked in mid-movie.
The film kicks off with an action sequence that cuts between two main locations: A team of agents stuck in traffic during a rain storm while they guard a high-security van carrying an important American jihadi. The convoy is attacked by gun-wielding motorcyclists, who free the terrorist and kill an American agent before speeding off. Back at the MI-5 command center, agents and their superiors watch this attack via a bevy of security cameras but find themselves unable to stop it.
Now here is why I felt lost at the beginning: without any introduction, we meet Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth, a veteran of the TV show), who gives the order to release the prisoner in order to prevent a bloodbath among civilians. Of course since I didn’t watch the TV show I had no idea who this guy was or how important he was to the agency.
And seriously, even in movies, a high-value prisoner would never be at risk due to a simple traffic jam. Nor would one of the nation’s intelligence services be caught so completely off guard that they can’t even get other agents to the scene during the escape.
The remainder of the movie centers on two characters: Harry Pearce who after he flubs the terrorist’s escape, goes out into the cold, disappearing underground in an attempt to find out who in MI-5 betrayed his operation. And to try to locate Pearce, MI-5 recalls a former agent named Will Holloway (Kit Harington).
Peter Firth proves to be the standout in the cast. He’s the kind of British actor who gives this type of movie some class. As for his younger counterpart, Kit Harington does a credible movie-star turn as the long-haired rebel agent, and he does have a few moments where I could picture him as James Bond.
Besides your obligatory explosions, shootings and much talk about technology & terrorism, the film features lots of establishing shots, and scenes of characters running down London streets, through airport terminals, across bridges and more. Like many spy movies of today, “MI-5” favors the action over the story.
If you were a fan of “MI-5” TV show, then you’ll probably enjoy the movie. As for, I wouldn’t say I hated everything about the film, but I did feel that the filmmakers took a few shortcuts with what could have been a very good movie.
“MI-5” final score: 6.5