Starring: Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon
Director: David Hare
Running Time: 99 mins
Page Eight is a British film about a veteran MI5 agent whose loyalty to his country is tested when he uncovers a complex ring of deceit that goes all the way to the highest office in the United Kingdom.
A cagey spy thriller packed with A-listers and pin-sharp dialogue, Page Eight often comes across more like a mid-20th century stage play than a sleek modern thriller. That may be more your cup of tea, or it may be a bit tiresome, as ultimately proved the case for me.
First things first, you’ve got to admire how this film goes about telling its story. It’s an intricate tale of deception and paranoia, following Bill Nighy as the very calm and collected Johnny Worricker as he navigates a scandal of national security that goes all the way to the very top.
The movie isn’t concerned with ridiculous plot twists (i.e. The Good Liar) or wide-ranging political messages (i.e. Official Secrets). Instead, all it wants to do is tell a well-plotted story that takes its time to move through the motions of an espionage scandal, more like the events would happen in real life.
Therefore, while the plot and the genre are very friendly to blockbuster thrills and spills, Page Eight sticks to its guns with a mellow, cool and measured approach to telling its story, something that writer-director David Hare deserves real praise for.
Having said that, I still found Page Eight to be a really tiresome watch. Although there are moments of great tension, the film went too far into the realm of cagey stage play to really grab me, and the long, long, long periods of very little action or intrigue frankly bored me.
It’s a shame to say given the fact that the film does so well to tell its story in a fresh and unique way, but for me Page Eight just drags and drags at far too slow a pace, developing a real burden in the form of its overly cagey atmosphere that only serves to make the film more exhausting than more intriguing.
There are certainly still a number of strengths to Page Eight, and it’s a better film than some of the later editions of this trilogy, given its commitment to its style and a few moments of real, captivating intrigue. For the most part, however, the film is a tiresome watch, which proves more frustrating than its cagey atmosphere proves captivating. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0 overall.