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Review: Stratton

4 10

PLOT: When his Navy SEAL best friend is killed, British Special Boat Service operative Stratton (Dominic Cooper) becomes hell-bent on taking apart the terrorist cell responsible, even if he may have a mole within his own support staff.

REVIEW: STRATTON sat on the shelf for a while before making its way to North America. Originally planned as a big budget Henry Cavill actioner, with it based on a series of novels he was no doubt hoping to spin into a franchise, he backed out at the eleventh hour. “Preacher” star Dominic Cooper wound up taking the part, but the finished film, which was released some time ago outside the U.S, reeks off post-production woes and perhaps a hastily reduced budget.

It’s a shame, because Cooper is a perfectly decent leading man. A movie he did a few years ago, THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE, where he played the dual roles of Uday Hussein and his double, was an underrated gem (with our own JimmyO having been quoted on the posters). He’s also damn good on “Preacher”, even if the show doesn’t always serve him so well. STRATTON could have been a good B-level action role for him but the corny script and lackluster direction leaves him stranded, and all the charisma in the world can’t elevate what’s essentially a DTV quickie.

In fact, STRATTON feels like the dull pilot to a TV series, with lots of shaky exposition about his past laid out, from his upbringing by a salty old sea captain (the great Derek Jacobi – livening things up with his scenery chewing) through his status as the SBS’s resident alpha. At only ninety minutes, it feels like director West, the helmer of genre classic CON AIR (and the pretty fun second EXPENDABLES movie) was shackled by the budget. Two chase sequences, one involving a boat on the Thames and the double decker bus finale stand out, but even those are ruined by shaky editing, some wonky sound work, and Nathaniel Méchaly’s overbearing score, which works hard to make the audience think they’re watching something exciting.

The cast is also a mixed bag, with Thomas Kretschmann a ludicrously two-dimensional baddie with limited screen time. Stratton’s allies don’t fare better. Gemma Chan is sweetly effective as his planner/love interest, but from the second he walks on-screen its clear Tom Felton is a red-herring, which is a shame as he’s shown in movies like MEGAN LEAVEY to be capable of much more. Meanwhile, Connie Nielsen struggles with her accent as Stratton’s boss. The buddy chemistry between our hero and his American counterpart, played by Austin Stowell, is generic buddy-stuff, with the stiff scripting not doing anyone any favors. Before twenty minutes have passed 90% of every action movie cliché in the book, from the “we got bad intel” to “stay with me man” to “this is my last mission because my wife is pregnant – I love her so mu…” GUNSHOT, is used, to nauseating effect. In the end, STRATTON is a blip on the radar for most everyone involved, and a movie Henry Cavill was probably well-advised to pass on.




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