Spy movies are a dime a dozen, but then one comes along that really takes you on an unexpected adventure. That’s the beauty of Stratton, an action packed film filled with excitement that’s fresh and different. It’s not James Bond or an episode of TV’s “24”, but a fun film that entertains with a bit of both.
”During WWII, the British Navy created an elite, secret squadron to carry out its most dangerous and classified missions. Known as the Special Boat Service (SBS), the unit proved so effective it was often assigned to work beside Secret Intelligence (MI6), and later become the basis of the American Military’s Navy Seals. Like the Seals, the SBS continues to operate, largely in darkness, around the globe to this day. It is led by highly trained, highly decorated men who honor the traditions of its founders.”
The above statement is precursor to the adventure that begins with a mission by SBS operatives John Stratton (Dominic Cooper) and Marty (Tyler Hoechlin) to blow up a facility in Iran. After planting charges, the two try to make their escape with Marty not making it out alive.
After returning to headquarters in London, Stratton gets a new partner, Hank (Austin Stowell) a former Navy Seal from the USA. The two get assigned a dangerous mission to stake out a laboratory run by Russian Grigory Barovsky (Thomas Kretchmann). The double spy is planning to kill most of the population of London with a deadly biochemical attack using a Cyclosarin gas. When they try to take down Barovsky things start to escalate into a war of pin point timing or face disaster.
Director Simon West (Laura Croft: Tomb Raider and The Expendables 2) moves the plot along at a fast pace with a lot of action. His chase scenes are topnotch and the stunts extreme. I found myself holding my breath in one underwater scene, which combined with excellent close-up photography, is chilling. The music is spot on lending suspense, excitement and thrills to the production.
West is a very good chief and brings out the best in his cast. While the description above of the story is only a taste of the film, it goes on pressing many hot buttons leading to an exciting finale. The support acting does the trick with a number of actors bringing out the best in the leading roles. In the operations room, Aggy (Gemma Chan) has control of the operatives as they move in and out of danger. She even goes into the field when needed to keep the operatives informed if they are going to be attacked. I like her in this role and she should be a prospect for other chances at acting in good films like Stratton.
Dominic Cooper is perfect as the lead spy operative who plays John Stratton with abandoned. He’s been around as a leader for SBS and never looks back when he finishes a mission. With his most important job ever, it’s do or die as he dives head first into danger. He has one of the leads in the current TV series “Preacher” as Jesse Custer and played Milton Greene in the movie A Week with Marilyn.
As Hank, Stratton’s new sidekick from the United States, Austin Stowell, puts on a good show as a partner that won’t give up no matter what the situation. He brings his Navy Seal skills to the table when they try to kill Barovsky. He stars as Larry King in the recent movie Battle of the Sexes and Frances Gary Powel in the film Bridge of Spies.
Stratton has been rated R by the MPAA for strong violence, and language. The film has a lot going for it and adults 17+ who like action thrillers should put the movie number one on their list. It’s one of the jewels that don’t make it to a lot of markets. If it doesn’t come to your hometown theater, check it out On Demand/Digital HD
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good thriller with commendable direction, production, acting and music.
Additional Film Information
Cast: Dominic Cooper, Gemma Chan, Austin Stowell, Tyler Hoechlin, Thomas Kretchmann, Igal Naor, Jake Fairbrother, Derek Jacobi, Tom Felton, Connie Nielsen,
Directed by: Simon West
Genre: Action, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, and language
Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.
Release Date: January 5, 2018
Distributed by: Momentum Pictures