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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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If you're after a spy story with running and shouting, violence and high-tech trickery then try Spooks. `Page Eight' is a much more thoughtful, contemplative drama reminiscent of early Le Carre (`The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' era) or the wonderful but short-lived series The Sandbaggers - Series 1 [1978] [DVD].

`Page Eight' covers some of the same ground as `The Ghost Writer' by Robert Harris in that it uncovers dastardly behaviour on the part of the British Prime Minister (an entirely undisguised interpretation of Tony Blair) who's found to be complicit, and maybe worse, when it comes to gathering intelligence by torture.
However, PE tells its tale in a very different way, from the perspective of a life-long intelligence analyst at MI5. Bill Nighy constructs a fascinating, old-school character in what might be one of his finest performances. Every line is crammed with hidden meaning; every raised eyebrow suggests the unspeakable. The interaction between Nighy and Michael Gambon is magnificent - as are Nighy's confused relationships with the various women in his life. The supporting cast is wonderful too, with superb turns from Alice Krige and Rafe Feinnes.
However, it is the neatly constructed plot, delicate dialogue and tight direction which deliver so much from `Page Eight'. On one level this is a very small story about an old spy at the end of his career, making a choice to prioritise his service and his country over his family for one last time. On the grander scale, the plot of `Page Eight' threatens to bring down the established security service and/or the Prime Minister and the special relationship with the USA. Like all the best spy stories, one tiny shuffle of a pawn has the potential to bring down an empire...

It's not entirely flawless. A couple of the jumps in the plot are a little hard to follow which made me wonder if a longer version had been trimmed down for British TV. But if any production company wanted to spin off this single film into an ongoing series (it's crying out for a prequel, at least) then I'd be glued to it.
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on 18 December 2011
This is a cracking BBC British spy movie with a superb cast. It is heavy on atmosphere, great character portrayal and clever dialogue rather than violence which is happily absent. While it is not a comedy, it has some dialogue that made me laugh out loud.

Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is an intelligence expert in MI5. His boss and best friend, Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) reveals to Johnny and a few others in the MI5 a file stating, on page 8, that Downing Street knows that the Americans are torturing prisoners in Black Sites even though such practices have been denied by the British Home Secretary (Saskia Reeves). It seems the Prime Minister has been witholding information from the Home Secretary. Suddenly Benedict Baron dies of natural causes and Johnny still has a copy of the damning file which the British Prime Minister (Ralph Fiennes) menacingly demands he return. But Johnny has a job to do. He realised that Benedict revealed this information with the intention of the truth being outed.

Meanwhile, Johnny's neighbour, Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) who he has never met, introduces herself and reveals that her brother, a political activist, has been murdered but no one will admit to it.

I loved it. But then I like almost everything that Bill Nighy is in.
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Brilliant drama starring Bill Nighy , Rachel Weisz and Michael Gambon about MI5 and their relationship , good or otherwise , with 10 Downing Street. I'm sure this sort of scenario is played out with regular monotony and you're never sure who knows what and , more importantly , what they do with the imformation. Bill Nighy is perfectly cast as the old school spy at odds with the new influx into MI5 and Government. Watch out for the brilliant little act of defiance at the end as Bill Nighy walks through the airport.
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on 25 May 2012
Superb ensemble performance. Gripping plot with high tension and enough happening in the background to lead to many repeat viewings.
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on 4 February 2012
In a long line of excellent plays by David Hare, this television play is as good as the best of them,which is truly extraordinary. It would have to be to attract three of Britain's leading men to share the honors! When does one get to see Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes performing together in one stunning play? Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon have taken turns as leading man in a David Hare play in the past, but this time they are both starring, and it is a delight to watch them play with and off each other! Not to be missed!
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on 9 December 2013
This is a very good if slightly underrated film, I didn't catch it when it was released but I am glad that I decided to purchase the DVD.
I like Bill Nighy as an actor he always seems to get into his character, Rachel Weisz is also excellent as the female lead in this film and what can you say about Michael Gambon apart from it will be a good film if he is acting in it!
David Hare the Writer and Directer has produced another excellent film, well worth watching.
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on 16 February 2014
Page Eight tells the story of two 'old school gentlemen' (Michael Gambon and Bill Nighy) in MI5 who are at odds with a ruthless and manipulative Prime Minister - and the lack of ethics in modern politics. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace and remains low-key throughout. No shoot-outs, screaming car chases, explicit sex, or gratuitous violence. Bill Nighy's character (Johnny Worricker) saunters through problems with career and family and is so laid back I half expected him to nod off more than once. The plot suffers a bit from left-wing prejudice and I found the relationship between Worricker and his neighbour Nancy Pierpan ( the gorgeous Rachel Weisz)a bit vague and somewhat difficult to accept but like Tinker, Tailor I don't think anything about this story should be analysed too much. Better to sit back and let a superb cast ease you through a thoroughly enjoyable performance of the highest quality.
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Page Eight is about an MI5 analyst who's boss dies and leaves him a rather sensitive file that some in the British hierarchy would rather never sees the light of day.

If you've seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy then it's basically the same thing - a spy thriller that tries to portray the more `realistic' side of espionage. By this I mean the side of spying that isn't shown in James Bond. Don't expect any beautiful bikini-clad babes in Page Eight, or even a car chase with a car than can turn into a boat. What you have here is a political thriller where `battles' are carried out with words and briefcases, rather than Walter PPKs.

Page Eight has a great cast - anything with Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon are always going to carry a certain level of kudos with them.

Is it any good? Yes, it does the job. It's probably worth a watch if you're happy with slower-paced thrillers. Gary Oldman's Tinker, Tailor is probably a superior vessel and Page Eight does come across like a film which was written by a Guardian reader, i.e. very left wing, but it's still not a bad watch.
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on 21 June 2015
The story of an honourable man working in a dis-honourable profession. He is tested when asked to take over a hugely difficult task, handed to him by his supervisor who is also a well respected and liked friend. He is driven to making moral decisions that will affect the rest of his life!
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on 30 August 2011
I don't normally review BBC drama but given the comments from the two other I felt I had to add a positive opinion. Hats off to the BBC for producing a great drama from one of our best contemporary playrights and putting it on over a bank holiday weekend when normally the best one can hope for on a sunday evening is a film repeat or an old episode of George Gently (think that comes next week). The cast were a joy to watch and this would seem a good pilot episode. Surely such an interesting character as Johhny Worricker is worth developing.
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