Director: Simon West
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Austin Stowell, Gemma Chan, Connie Nielsen, Thomas Kretschmann, Tom Felton, Derek Jacobi. UK. 1h 34m
British director Simon West has a huge action highlight reel consisting of succulent titles such as Con Air, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, The Mechanic, and even the mega blockbusters, The Expendables 2. But his latest addition, a smaller scaled Brit Espionage Thriller, Stratton, seem to have all the right components of a big budget action flick but just no heart and soul, which is bound to leave many viewers feeling cheated.
I’m sure there will be a small fan base for this bizarre combination of big time thrills in strange locations, but overall Stratton feels like Mission Impossible glitching in the wrong dimension. There’s a lot of noteworthy performances, most notable Derek Jacobi, the last person you’d expect to see in any 2017 action flick but he plays his small part to perfection, and totally outshines the star Dominic Cooper, who, despite being the star John Stratton is easily forgettable and has literally no charisma. Cooper’s made a huge impact in past roles but is just lacking all round here he’s so quiet and seems to be going through the motions, it’s not entirely all his fault, as the director’s eye is more involved in playing around the stage and trying to fit in as many explosions and chases as possible.
Stratton is backed up by a crack team of highly trained operatives, a stylish love interest and al roudner, Gemma Chan, a nervous Tom Felton and terribly posh Connie Nielsen who’s hardly recognisable through her botox. The mission, should they choose to accept it, is to hunt down a Soviet rogue agent who’s planning a biochemical attack on sunny London and for Queen and Country Stratton and Co are on the case. The only problem is this creepy agent, acted by an almost silent Thomas Kretschmann, is always one step ahead and is crazily sadistic.
With a wooden cast and with little personality spread between them the only saving grace is that the film is easy to follow and does, at times, have a lot going on in terms of firefights and explosions, on a mental scale it’s just a tad laborious but at least it’s straight forward. I think the approach works but at times it just feels tired, so very tired.
Some of the tense scenes a London bus flips over at high speed and all the bad guys are killed and our hero wanders away with a scratch, sometimes a movie can be just a bit too convenient. With terrible scenes like that, Strattong isn’t going to be a replacement for bond or mission impossible in any sense, but I think it could grow if they would just be that little more daring, but what hurts is that it’s from a similar series of books and it COULD be a contender!
“I think I’ll stick around. I like the weather.”
If you’re willing to tune out for your action then Stratton will help you past the time, there are some entertainment elements within the story telling, and whatever action scenes are handled well but its those boring moments when characters are supposedly mourning lost friends, having a drink or tailing a bad guy while sitting in their cars right in front of him and expect to be invisible that let the film down. I can’t imagine anyone will be using this title in the CV for future work.
Related: Mission Impossible (1996+), James Bond (1962+), Ronin (1998)
Lists: Action films from 2017,
Spotlight: Dominic Cooper, Thomas Kretschmann