Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-time officer at MI5 and good friends with his boss, Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon), who is the Director General of MI5. Baron hands a very sensitive report to Johnny and Jill Tankard (Judy Davis) and the Home Secretary (Saskia Reeves). When they meet, Worricker points out a footnote at page eight, suggesting that the Prime Minister (Ralph Fiennes) has knowledge of torture practices by the US authorities of prisoners in off the map prisons overseas. If that is true, he failed to disclose this information to the secret service, whereas it it could have been crucial to saving British lives.
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In his appartment building, Johnny runs into his neighbour Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz), who is a political activist and born in Syria. Johnny starts spending time with her and tells her about his love of modern art, but asks a friend of his, Rollo, who is also a covert intelligence agent, to investigate her. They think she only shows interest in Johnny, because she might want to use his connections.
Baron suddenly dies of a heart attack. Johnny assumes that Baron wanted to go public with the report. The Prime Minister tries to bury the report, buying the silence of the Home Secretary by making her Deputy Prime Minister. He tells Johnny of his reorganization plans. He intends to replace MI5 with a Homeland Security organisation, American style.
Johnny goes and sells a painting from his art collection to obtain some travel money, as by now he thinks it wise to leave the country. He investigates a guy who he has seen hanging around his flat, and finds out it is Tankard's son, paid to keep tabs on him. He realizes that Tankard covertly works for the Prime Minister's office, and runs a 'loner' mission to gather information that will suit her boss' political needs.
On him leaving the country, Johnny gives Nancy one of his paintings. At the airport, Johnny dumps the report incriminating the Prime Minister in a bin. Looking closely at the painting Johnny has given her, a picture of a church by the sea with a warm looking beach, Nancy realizes this might just be a clue as to where to find Johnny.
Best part of story, including ending:
The schemes in politics and secret service.
Best scene in story:
Where he explains his interest in modern art to her. But his style of acting (Bill Nighy) throughout the movie is marvellous.
Opinion about the main character:
He is a guy with a conscience, getting out of the shady spy business, just in time.