- James Mottram
- 28 August 2017
Poor acting and tedious explanations hamper an otherwise enjoyable action movie, starring Dominic Cooper
A B-list British action movie starring Dominic Cooper, Stratton makes its focus the Special Boat Service. The special forces unit of the Royal Navy, the SBS is primarily dedicated to marine counterterrorism. This story, based on the novel by Duncan Falconer – a former SBS commando who co-adapts here – delves into the highly-skilled and crazily dangerous work involved. Just the first segment alone – a protracted underwater scene – is enough to give you the bends.
Cooper's John Stratton is 007-lite, a loner dedicated to working for Her Majesty. When his partner is killed in action, Stratton tracks down international terrorist Grigory Barovsky (Thomas Kretschmann) who is threatening to set off a dirty bomb. It's a strictly formulaic plot with twists you'll spot a mile off and anaemic characterisation – especially the MI5 suits played by Tom Felton and Gemma Chan.
What the film does have going for it, particularly given its limited resources, is a director who can stage action. Simon West, still best known for Con Air, manages to generate a few thrills along the way – notably a boat chase along the Thames and a road stunt using a Routemaster bus. Capable of the physical requirements, Cooper comfortably slots into the role of Stratton; on this evidence, he wouldn't make a bad Bond.
Unfortunately, the film is hampered by dreary expositional speeches and poor acting, particularly from Connie Nielsen – totally miscast as the SBS boss – and Derek Jacobi, who hams it up as Stratton's boozy, houseboat-dwelling mate. Locations like Rome add glamour, but hardly on the scale of, say, Spectre. Enjoyable, but only if your expectations are low, Stratton is not likely to inspire a sequel anytime soon.
General release from Fri 1 Sep.