Brit Spy Series ‘Spooks’ Hits the Big Screen in ‘MI-5’ but Still Feels Made for TV


In MI-5, secret agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington) pauses in the midst of a foot chase to tie his hair into a man-bun, a gesture that proves to be the only contemporary touch in this clunky old-school thriller.

Will is tracking his mentor, Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), the counterterrorism chief at Britain’s famed spy agency. After letting the terrorist known as Qasim (Elyes Gabel) slip from his clutches, a disgraced Harry goes rogue, intent on recapturing Qasim while also tricking him into revealing the identity of a mole inside the agency.

MI-5 is based on Spooks, a much-admired British TV series, starring Firth, which ended its ten-year run in 2011. Screenwriters Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, who wrote for the show, and director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) do their best to provide Will with cinematic action sequences — he climbs a lot of balconies — but their collective heart clearly lies at the agency’s Thames House headquarters, where political backstabbings are more routine than terror threats.

Led by the honorably dour Firth and the charisma-free Harington, MI-5 is convoluted and dull, though Harry’s revenge against that dastardly mole is pleasingly diabolical. But it’s too little too late. Don’t expect a sequel.


Directed by Bharat Nalluri

Saban Films

Opens December 4, Village East Cinema

Available on demand