Film Review: Stratton (2017)

A would-be Bond clone, Stratton ends up more sub-standard Spooks episode than super-spy thriller

“What is this Cummings?
‘This? This is absolution'”

With Dominic Cooper starring and the likes of Gemma Chan, Connie Nielsen and Derek Jacobi supporting, I did think that 2017’s Stratton might not be as bad as all that. But as usual, there’s a reason why the film disappeared without a trace – it really is as bad as that. For a wannabe spy thriller, it is criminally lethargic and sadly, just dull in too many places.

Cooper plays John Stratton, a sergeant in the Special Boat Service who are a team of commandos who fanny about the globe trying to stop terrorists and stuff. They also sometimes die on missions, as we see in an opening sequence set in Iran, where a bioweapon goes astray and vengeful stakes are raised in order to stop possible future attacks.

Cooper is a good actor but in Simon West’s film, with Duncan Falconer and Warren Davis II’s script (from Falconer’s original book series), he’s incredibly ill-suited to the role. The fact that he took it on with 5 days notice after original star Henry Cavill withdrew at the last minute was probably a sign that we all should have taken notice of, Cooper’s energy feels lowkey throughout but he’s also not given any depth of character to work with beyond hokey clichés.

That’s an aesthetic the film carries from top to bottom. Gemma Chan’s brainbox operative a rip from Humans, Tom Felton’s nervy techy a Draco from the future, there’s so little personality being shown on screen you just don’t care. The only aspects to spark interest are things like Nielsen’s horrendous British accent, the outrageousness of Jacobi’s somnambulance and the very loose grasp on London geography shown in the double-decker-bus-featuring finale. I really wouldn’t bother.

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