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 pedestrian picture is James Bond on a budget.
The script, co-written 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. During the lacklustre opening set-piece, which sees the titular agent swim up a water pipe to gain access to an Iranian pharmaceutical factory, one of his support team handily notes the possibility that he could be chewed to death by an intake pump. “That would suck,” predictably quips the underling.
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. 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.
Choppy editing fails to generate dramatic momentum and a solitary twist is telegraphed in advance in capital letters.