2017 in Cinema:
Directed by: Simon West
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Gemma Chan, Austin Stowell, Tyler Hoechlin, Tom Felton
‘The enemy has a weapon. So do we.’ Unfortunately for us viewers, though, it’s a very boring weapon.
Stratton is a British action-thriller based on the novel series of the same name. It focuses on John Stratton (Dominic Cooper), a British Special Boat Service operator, and their mission to stop a terrorist intent on releasing a deadly gas over the skies of London.
I figured it’d take a lot to get a 1* rating (and Overdrive went close), but this film deserves it. Every aspect of this film seems up and down: certain parts seemed like they were trying to build character development (after Stratton’s first partner died there were a couple of flashbacks, but his partner was soon forgotten about afterwards, and Stratton’s new partner disobeyed instructions on his first mission, despite being warned not to by Stratton, but this was, again, soon forgotten about and they instantly became a partnership of trust and friendship) but they couldn’t maintain these developments through the film. The writing tried to allow for these build-ups but soon forgotten about what it was trying to do, and it wasn’t helped by the plethora of short scenes with very little time to build anything or anyone.
The acting is all over the place, too: Tom Felton is naturally okay in his role, but everyone else is either too serious, too carefree, too worry-free or just very wooden with their performance. We are told early on there’s a mole, and the expression on one of the character’s faces immediately lets loose on the fact s/he is the spy.
While poor writing, poor acting and a boring, borderline sleep-inducing plot are bad, its worst feature is saved for its editing. I accept that fast-paced films have fast-paced edits, but this film is ridiculous. Early on there’s a car chase and each cut barely lasts over a second before we’re switching to a different cut: front car, back car, side of car, one man shooting, another man shooting, overhead view, side view, front car, street, behind cars, all immediately one after the other, and with both cars being black in colour it does get very confusing as to who is whom. Every action scene is like this and when you don’t know exactly which character is shooting and which characters are on our side it makes for a very poorly edited film. If I don’t know who John Stratton is among many gun shots and camera angles, how am I supposed to feel excited or nervous about his life?
There are many other errors with this film: how Aggy (Gemma Chan) managed to be tossed out of the bus’ window and land far enough away that it didn’t fall and crush her and how Stratton and his partner just-so-happened to be near her bus when she’s flashing her camera phone from the back window to signal her location. Nothing about this film is done well, or even borderline-okay, it’s a poor film regards to its characters, its plot and its editing.
Overall Rating: *