High speed chases, death-defying stunts and a race against time to outsmart a classic, cunning villain. From the director whose career is marked by hugely iconic action flicks including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Expendables 2 just to mention a few, comes Simon West’s latest film, Stratton. The titular character and his American counterpart of the Special Boat Service navigate their way through a series of dangerous missions in an effort to find the most notoriously evil Soviet agent before he has the chance to fulfil his dastardly revenge plot. While lacking in creativity and originality, Stratton doesn’t disappoint when it comes to mind-blowing stunts and action sequences. Anyone who’s in it for the adrenaline rush is in for a good time, but don’t expect much else.
While on a mission to recover dangerous biochemical weapons from an Iranian laboratory, Agent Stratton (Dominic Cooper) and his partner Marty (Tyler Hoechlin) find themselves in an ambush attack, which leaves Marty mortally wounded, carried out by unknown perpetrators. In collaboration with MI6 officials, it becomes clear that the mysterious enemy was none other than the most feared Russian spy, Grigory Barovsky (Thomas Kretschmann), a rogue agent who had been presumed dead for the past 20 years. Barovsky manages to wreak a little havoc here and there as Stratton and new partner Hank (Austin Stowell) track him around the globe, taking out his cohorts along the way. As per action movie protocol, Stratton and Hank race against the clock to stop Barovsky before he does the unthinkable.
It’s hard to knock a film that is impressive in its own regard. Cooper does a tremendous job as the leading man, even performing many of his own stunts. Additionally, Kretschmann’s Barovsky is the embodiment of villainy; he carries the role well in spite of its overt cliché . But one simply can’t help but feel as if Stratton is something they’ve seen before, recycled a hundred times. Yes, the stunts are amazing but underneath all the razzle-dazzle we have an unoriginal villain and an unremarkable hero. As wonderful a job as Cooper does with the part, it doesn’t change the fact that the role itself is not one of a sympathetic champion. Although the movie is certainly of the technical calibre of, let’s say, the Bourne films, John Stratton is not a hero like Jason Bourne. Much like the SBS, this protagonist is veiled in a cloak of mystery and we only really invest in heroes when we see them as real people. There is a marked lack of emotional depth to him, which seriously hinders our ability to care about his fate. Simply put, Stratton is a solid display of the director’s ability to make an action movie. Had there been a bit more attention paid to the screenplay and character development, the film could have easily been a new classic instead of a rinse and repeat action flick.
Stratton is released nationwide on 1st September 2017.
Watch the trailer for Stratton here: