Based on the British TV series that formerly aired on A&E, BBC America and PBS here in the United States, “MI-5" reteams much of the original cast and crew for the big-screen reboot while adding Kit Harington and Jennifer Ehle.
A motorcade, en route to deliver terrorist ringleader Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) to the FBI, gets ambushed amid traffic gridlock. With bystanders’ lives hanging in the balance, head of counter-terrorism Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) orders subordinates to surrender Qasim to the hijackers. Convinced that there’s an accomplice within her majesty’s secret service, Pearce goes rogue and off the grid to get to the bottom of it. His colleagues bring in Will Holloway (Harington) — whom Pearce had decommissioned — to track him down. Meanwhile, Qasim’s team wastes no time in detonating a bomb at a NATO council gala.
The cast and crew work like a well-oiled machine, delivering the quality drama we’ve come to expect from British TV imports. Resembling an older and stockier Daniel Craig, Firth commands the proceedings with stone-faced cool. And there’s a surplus of double-dealings, plot twists and international locales to justify the theatrical treatment.
That the series was originally titled “Spooks” — and the film, “Spooks: The Greater Good” — in Britain, suggests the franchise is held to a different set of standards for racial sensitivity there. The film taps into Islamophobia in a timely manner while deliberately using other minority characters as red herrings.
MPAA rating: R for violence and some language
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.