We were a huge fan of the show during its decade-long run on the BBC, finding it a worthy British equal (and, arguably, better in the latter seasons) to 24, albeit more cerebral, though no less thrilling. We were thus very pleasantly surprised to hear of a film being made, four years after the last episode aired, and this is certainly a worthy successor to the franchise. Harry Pearce (Firth) is forced to step down after terrorist Adem Qasim (Gabel) escapes MI5 custody on his watch, but Pearce knows there must have been an inside man, and suspects it's part of a plot to strip the organization of its independence. Faking his own suicide, Harry goes off-grid and contacts former agent Will Holloway (Harington), convincing him to dig into the truth. However, he also reaches out to Qasim, knowing he can finger the mole, and uses the terrorist's wife, held by the Russians, as leverage, even as Qasim is planning a major attack in the centre of London.
The subtitle here is key, pointing out the moral dilemmas which run through the entire film. Harry provides a much-needed spiritual and emotional heart to proceedings, somthing often lacking in the genre. For example, he takes the responsibilty for highly-questionable actions, such as hacking GCHQ's computers for secrets he can trade with the Russians for Qasim's wife. [We were delighted to see that sequence included Malcolm, one of the most-loved characters from the series - and one of the few to go out on his own terms, retiring rather than being killed off!] Is it right to do bad things for good reason? The film certainly seems to think so, and Pearce's savagely practical moral compass and smarts perpetually put him several steps ahead of Holloway - or maybe, we just wanted to yell "Kit Holloway, you know nothing!" If they keep on popping these out every four years or so, we would not mind in the slightest.