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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » MI-5 (Blu-ray)
MI-5 (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // February 9, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted April 27, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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In hindsight, "MI-5" was most likely a film I should have done some research into before blindly jumping into and agreeing to review; however, for those like me, wholly unfamiliar with the BBC series "Spooks" (or "MI-5" as it was called in the US), the film offers an interesting perspective into jumping into a longstanding series (in this case 86 episodes in). "MI-5" or "Spooks: The Greater Good" as it was called in the UK is a spy thriller/action film chronologically set after the end of the series and features Peter Firth as Harry Pearce, the head of British Intelligence, or MI-5 as its better known. Joining Firth are a number of additional series stars as well as Jennifer Ehle and Kit Harrington as two characters crafted solely for the big screen outing. Weaving in and out of the worlds of shadowy, "real world" espionage and cinematic grandiosity, "MI-5" is a head scratching hour and forty minute endeavour.

Chalk it up maybe just a tiny bit to having zero connection to the series previously, but realistically more to the muddled screenplay, and I have a hard time explaining "MI-5" without writing a needless plot summary. To make a long story short, like many entries in the genre, "MI-5" explores themes of terrorism (naturally) and the paranoia of internal treason. Largely focused on who helped the film's antagonist Qasim escape in the opening sequence, "MI-5" is a twisting morass of characters with questionable loyalties and for those who have never watched a frame of the series to begin with, questionable purposes. Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent's script do no favors to those who come in fresh, possibly using the film as a reason to go back and watch the series itself. In this aspect, "MI-5" fails outright at serving an audience outside its core demographic; imagine if any of the many "Star Trek" films over the years took this exclusionary approach. While I appreciate devoted fans getting a big screen offering, there should be at least a few bones thrown the ways of the uninitiated (personal anecdote: I became a fan of "Firefly" by watching "Serenity" which is a lot more meaningful to the longtime fan, but still is warm and inviting to newcomers).

Gripes about the plot and dense nature of the film's pacing aside, "MI-5" is also plagued with a real dud of a more action oriented lead in the form of Kit Harington. Harrington to me screams, stunt casting, as his dull performance sticks out like a sore thumb amidst a genuinely pleasant cast of supporting characters and co-leads. Harrington's Will Holloway serves the necessary evil of taking "MI-5" from the small screen to the big screen in terms of action. Harrington also is likely to attract the eye of viewers from his work on "Game of Thrones" but overall, turns in a performance more reminiscent of his work in "Silent Hill: Revelation" than HBO's hour-long current juggernaut. Further complicating matters are action sequences that feel thematically out of place or hyper stylized, when at its core, "MI-5" is pushing to be a cat-and-mouse game of political espionage.

I can't say with any authority what a longtime original series fan is going to think of this film; as a completely in-the-dark viewer, "MI-5" has nothing going for it to make it worth watching in the first place. It's a strangely paced, confusing action/thriller that sadly looks to have been marketed by Lionsgate in the US to seem like a "Mission Impossible" knock off on the cover in terms of art design. Perhaps, if I ever get around to checking out its small screen ancestry, I'll revisit it with a new set of eyes; in the meantime, I'm just thankful to be done with it.


THE VIDEO

The 1080p 2.40:1 transfer is a true work of beauty. The film's cinematography is largely draped in shades of grey (*gasp* symbolism?!) and is a decisively coolly themed palette. Contrast is crisp and makes the film's nighttime sequences pop with depth and clarity. Overall, it's a well detailed modern transfer that definitely captures the big screen feel from a design perspective.


THE AUDIO

The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a solid offering, striking the fine balance between quiet office/back alley conversations and surround exercising full scale action sequences, which can be incredibly intense and harrowing, using the LFE channel to full effect. It's a very warm audio track that conveys the emotions of the film in a convincing, balanced fashion. English and Spanish subtitles are included as well as English SDH subtitles.


EXTRAS

Extras include a brief behind-the-scenes featurette titled "The Making of MI-5" and a selection of deleted scenes.


FINAL THOUGHTS

"MI-5" is far from an inviting film. For fans of the original series, I'd make a safe bet, you'll get more out of this endeavour for this who aren't. Despite a decidedly competent technical presentation, "MI-5" just doesn't enough coherence or compelling story to spend nearly two-hours slogging through. Skip It.

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