Belfast Telegraph

Stratton: Spy caper a poor-man's James Bond


By Damon Smith

Based on a series of novels by former Special Boat Service commando Duncan Falconer, Stratton is a globe-trotting spy caper that ricochets between Iran, Ukraine, Rome, Uzbekistan and London.

Long on ambition and short on thrills or invention, Simon West's picture is James Bond on a budget.

The script, by Falconer and Warren Davis II, resembles a checklist of 007 motifs: an emotionally scarred hero, a megalomaniacal nemesis with a loopy plan to kill millions, car chases, gadgets, gratuitous destruction and groansome one-liners.

In the lacklustre opening set-piece, which sees the titular agent swim up a water pipe to an Iranian pharmaceutical factory, one of his team handily notes the possibility that he could be chewed to death by an intake pump. The film does indeed suck in places, with thin characterisation and a wooden supporting performance from Danish actress Connie Nielsen as an M-lite MI6 chief, whose clipped English accent has a distinct Scandinavian lilt.

Sadly, Dominic Cooper doesn't invest his gung-ho operative with charisma or emotional depth, and sexual tension with Gemma Chan's hi-tech Miss Moneypenny barely simmers.

Stunt sequences unfold almost entirely in isolation from the hustle and bustle of the real world, including a night time pursuit through cobbled Italian streets, so there is nary a possibility of innocent bystanders being caught in crossfire.

Stratton won't be leaving audiences shaken or stirred.

Two stars

Belfast Telegraph


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