If you like your low profile British spy drama, if you’re a fan of Callan or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, then you would probably feel like Page Eight equals winning the lottery. It’s a British spy drama made for TV whose power comes mostly from its acting and dialog, not from action (leave that with high budget American trash, please).
Actually, 2011’s Page Eight is the first in a series of three. It’s followed by Turks & Caicos and then Salting the Battlefield. I haven’t seen the latter yet, but it looks as if the common theme is them revolving around an old British spy (Bill Nighy) and his adventures in political international espionage plotting. In Page Eight, Nighy is co-sharing the screen with mighty names such as Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis. So you can see where the limited budget was spent.
The plot is difficult to summarise without ruining affairs, but I will say that tension comes from the conflict between the Prime Minister (Fiennes) and our spy. Their quarrel is to do with the very relevant question of how far we are allowed to go in order to protect our societies, based as their are on liberal concepts of freedom. In the face of threats, Fiennes’ is the David Cameron like position, where we’re allowed the most immoral of acts, whereas Nighy stands for what I, personally, regard as the common sense position.
Whether I would recommend Page Eight to you comes down to the question of how well you handle the piles of dialog and the lack of adrenaline pumping action. I admit I often struggled and found myself on the sleepier side of things, but hey, I’m shallow as.
Overall: While I definitely take sides in the quarrel at the core of Page Eight, the movie itself left me rather ambivalent as to whether I should follow it up with its sequels. 2.5 out of 5 underwhelmed crabs.