A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that MI-5 is a spy thriller based on the British TV series of the same name. Convoluted and dull for newcomers, it has little to offer anyone besides fans of the show (although Game of Thrones fans may be intrigued by star Kit Harington). Expect lots of violence -- especially guns and shooting -- with some death and blood. There's also chasing, fighting, crashes, and explosions, as well as suicide (both faked and not). Language isn't frequent but includes uses of "f--k" and "s--t."
What's the story?
Set after the end of the TV series it's connected to, UK spy thriller MI-5 begins with a routine prisoner transfer. Unfortunately, there's an attack, and terrorist Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel) goes free. Realizing that he'll be pegged as the scapegoat, head of counter-terrorism Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) fakes his own suicide. He then enlists the aid of decommissioned agent Will Holloway (Kit Harington), the only person Harry can trust, to catch Qasim before he launches an attack. It turns out that Qasim is willing to make a deal, but Harry and Will must find his wife, which will be no easy task. And to make matters even more complicated, it seems that there's a traitor inside MI-5.
Is it any good?
Very convoluted and not particularly exciting, this movie will likely only appeal to fans of the TV series, which ran from 2002 to 2011; even then, it's not much more than an extended episode. Directed by Bharat Nalluri, who made the very charming Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, MI-5 feels perfunctory and flat; it's on auto-pilot. Nalluri finds a numbing, middle-ground pace that moves too fast for viewers to get involved in the characters but too slow for true thrills.
During dialogue scenes, the camera meanders about, moving around characters' heads as if bored. To make matters worse, the bad guy and the good guy look strikingly similar (Harrington has slightly longer hair); the plot is already confusing, and this casting error makes things even more baffling. To top things off, the plain title, MI-5 -- which was changed from the British title Spooks: The Greater Good -- will ensure that newcomers pass this one by.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why are stories about spies appealing? What are the good things about being a spy? The bad things?
How is the story affected by the choice of a terrorist as a bad guy?
If you've seen the show, how does the movie compare? Which do you like better, and why?
- In theaters: December 4, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2016
- Cast: Kit Harington, Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle
- Director: Bharat Nalluri
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and some language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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