Stratton – so-called for the surname of its protagonist, a grizzled but oddly soft-spoken wetwork chap played by Dominic Cooper – has a plot involving lots of acronyms and beards and wetsuits and casual banter under gunfire. Stratton is an agent of the U.K.’s SBS, which is roughly analogous to the U.S.’s Navy SEALs, and the bad guy is an ex-FSB Russkie with ties to Iranian biological weaponry. If you understood all that, congratulations – you might like Stratton, which is a medium-budget British actioner with a cheerfully outrageous finale and some spots of acting for which the only applicable acronym is WTF.
Following a typically calamitous mission which results in the death of his American partner thanks mostly to wonky intelligence and a baddie who looks like a young Gary Oldman, Stratton is despatched to clean up the mess by his boss, whom he calls “ma’am,” naturally, and whom Connie Nielson plays with perhaps the worst imitation of a posh British accent I’ve ever heard; Judi Dench as M after a litre of absinthe. Also on-hand to offer a highly questionable performance is Derek Jacobi, who either plays Stratton’s dad or a random old man. Either way, he lives on a Thames barge and quotes limericks.
This is an aggressively mediocre film; a knock-off boating Bond with leaden performances that almost sink it completely. It’s partially redeemed only by a nuts extended chase sequence involving a double-decker bus caroming through the English countryside, and some fun bits of business involving speedboats, but Stratton has water on the brain in more ways than one.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.