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MI-5 - Blu-ray Review

Title: MI-5


HTS Overall Score:79

Heist and spy movies all seem to have one thing in common. If you get stuck in traffic while transporting a prisoner you ARE going to get hijacked. It’s almost as common a trope as the horror movie clichés where the dumb teenagers go INTO a darkened scary room that they heard a noise from so that they can get sliced and diced by the bloodthirsty villain. Well, that’s exactly what happens in the opening shots of the film. A transport truck carrying a high value CIA target is taken away from British MI-5 agents, only to leave a dead boy along the way and even more questions about his intentions after he is back out in the wild. Taken from the show of the same name (in some markets it was labeled “Spooks”), the movie shows the course of one man who won’t give up against all odds, and the sacrifices one has to make and lines of grey that have to be walked like a tight rope in a job like this.

The prisoner who escaped from the traffic heist was named Adem Qasim (Elyes Gabel). A high value target, he is the leader of a Middle Eastern terrorist cell and is responsible for many a heinous act. When he escapes Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), the leader of the MI-5 unit, is discharged and the blame laid squarely on his shoulders. Going out on his own, he hunts down and makes a deal with Qasim. Give him the name of the mole within MI-5 who got him out of the transport, and he would get him his wife back. While the deal is easy enough to make, holding up on the bargain is much harder than anticipated.

While Harry is trying to get Qasim’s wife out of FSB custody in the USSR, MI-5 brings in disgraced agent Will Holloway (Kit Harrington) to hunt down Harry and bring him in for questioning. One thing leads to another and Will is recruited by Harry into getting the information he needs to find Qasim’s wife. In the process, the op goes south and both Will and Harry are under cross hairs from BOTH Qasim and MI-5 in one fell swoop. Now the unthinkable has to be done in order to root out the mole. Give up more than just a few bits of your soul in the hopes that in the end, justice will be served.

I make a point of saying this, but DTS movies usually fall under the “ooooo, I’m a bit leery of that, but I’ll give it a chance” mentality. Some of them are quite good, while the majority of them are passable or just plain BAD to the bone. “MI-5” happens to be one of the few movies where I sit up in my chair and say “wow that was actually pretty good for a change”! While there is certainly a formulaic nature to the action spy thriller, I was pleasantly surprised on several fronts. Director Bharat Nalluri does a very competent job with the action as well as the more detailed bits of character study. He washes over some of the depth of the characters, but does well enough with the motivations and the steady pace of the film. It never slows down too much or gets TOO convoluted, but keeps up at a steady clip and doesn’t try to stuff in superfluous plot devices to fill out the story. The action is well choreographed and the gun battles actually look rather well done. Shaky cam is left to a minimum and there are actual FIGHT scenes instead of a billion cuts per second to make it look like there is a fight going on, but you really can’t tell behind all that blurring and gyrating camera motions.

I enjoyed the film a lot more than I expected to, and some of that was due to Peter Firth. While Kit Harrington is the young plucky agent, I really felt that Peter did the most with his role. He felt beleaguered and weary of his position. Having to make all those grey decisions for so many years has worn him down to just a grim sense of duty, and not much else. Kit does a decent enough job as the young Will Holloway, but really he’s just a plot device for the movie. The young muscular actor to take great risks and shoot the villain between the eyes when necessary. His acting has always been subpar, even in “Game of Thrones”, and it’s really no different here. He has a few good moments, but really the whole time you’re keeping your eyes on Qasim and Firth’s rendition of Harry Pearce (who is actually one of the stars in the TV show).


Rated R for violence and some language


“MI-5” comes to Blu-ray with a very impressive 2.39:1 AVC encoded image for the Blu-ray. Shot 100% digitally, the picture looks incredibly sharp with razor blade accurate colors and wonderful detail levels. There are some CGI scenes, including a massive explosion, that looks a little bit softer than the rest of the surrounding environment, but for the most part you can see every bit of fibers on clothing and scuffs of dirt along the face. Black levels are deep and appropriately ink, showing off every bit of detail that the shadows hold. Colors are rich and vibrant, and sometimes shift to extreme color grading (teal is the most commonly used one). I did notice that the whites in this film are REALLY vibrant. Not vibrant as in boosted contrast across the board, but that the individual white color in the film is exaggerate and looks as shiny and overpowering as a well-polished pearl.


The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on the disc is just as impressive as the video. Aggressive and well defined, it rocks the opening scene with the finely detailed sounds of bullets striking in multiple directions, coupled with an aggressive bass level that rocks the front row seating. Directionality is great, as you can hear the roar of engines from the back and shift straight up front, or hear the sound of a sniper bullet whistle past your ears and land in the back. The score is well integrated and while the vocals are clean and clear as a bell, I noticed that the dynamic range is VERY wide. The sounds of ambient traffic and people milling about are right on par with the vocals, but when the heavy effects kick into high gear they DOMINATE the sound stage with explosions and the pounding of the score.


• The Making of "MI-5" Featurette
• Deleted Scenes


All in all I was rather impressed with the film. It’s not going to rival the great action movies of today, but it’s very enjoyable and looks like it cost a lot more than it actually did. The effects were well done, and the fight scenes weren’t only long and dramatic which eats up a budget real quickly. The flaws are there, and the use of Kit Harrington isn’t a great boon to the film, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoy a good action oriented spy film. The audio and video are amazing and despite the lack of any substantial extras I have to give the disc a good thumbs up.

Additional Information

Starring: Kit Harrington, Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle
Directed by: Bharat Nalluri
Written by: Jonathan Brackley, Sam Vincent
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R
Runtime: 104 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 9th 2016

Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch.

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