Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving M15 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the stability of the organization. Meanwhile, a seemingly chance encounter with Johnny's striking next-door neighbour and political activist Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) seems too good to be true. Johnny is forced to walk out of his job, and then out of his identity to find out the truth. Set in London and Cambridge, PAGE EIGHT is a contemporary spy film for the BBC, which addresses intelligence issues and moral dilemmas peculiar to the new century.
A volatile document falls into the hands of MI5, threatening to upend the entire government--but first it may destroy the life of Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy), a senior intelligence analyst. The head of the agency (and Worricker's best friend) Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) abruptly dies, leaving a complex snarl of threads to untangle: Who's the source of the document? Who might benefit from it? And what does it have to do with the lovely woman (Rachel Weisz) who lives across the hall from Worricker, who seems to have a sudden romantic interest in him? Writer-director David Hare unspools the espionage with skill and delicacy, and the cast--lean and inscrutable Nighy, brittle and biting Judy Davis, a startlingly brutish Ralph Fiennes, and jumpy Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting
) as a covert agent whose entire career may cease to exist with Baron's death--are all ideal for this cat-and-mouse game. Hare isn't as good with more tender emotions; the romance between Nighy and Weisz feels thin and there's not much tension to the mystery surrounding her. But the political machinations crackle, the cast is magnetic, and the production design is sleek and alluring. The Blu-ray edition brings out the shimmer in the glass and metal surfaces and the depth of the lush fabrics, enhancing the spy games considerably. (It also brings out the layer of makeup on Nighy's weathered face, but you stop noticing that after a while.) There are no extra features. --Bret Fetzer