After ten series on the BBC, Peter Firth’s MI5 crew get their own big-screen adventure, putting themselves in competition with the likes of the ‘Bourne’ and ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchises. That’s quite an ask, given the relatively modest resources available for this homegrown production. But then the TV series always gave as much weight to gnarly moral decisions and furrowed personal histories as to its compact action set pieces. We get the same mix here too, as beady-eyed boss Firth goes AWOL when terrorist leader Elyes Gabel is sprung from MI5’s grasp. Decommissioned officer Will Holloway’s (Kit Harington, see interview opposite) family connections make him the man to collar both of them before the deadly revolutionaries mount an attack on London.
Harington is likeable and agile enough to carry off the action-man role, but the film’s main frissons come from a startling willingness to dispose of seemingly major characters. Overall, excitement levels are moderate. But even if the film can’t match Hollywood for spectacle, there’s a sobering sense of the painful sacrifices and compromises facing those who toil in secret to keep us safe from harm.