I had the chance to see a pre-release sneak of the new UK thriller STRATTON this week. Cliched but action packed, it's like a big screen "24" that gets better as it unfolds, with one major caveat.
Dominic Cooper (so great in AMC's "Preacher") stars as British Service Commando John Stratton. As the film opens, he and right hand mate Marty (Tyler Hoechlin from "Teen Wolf") are Navy Sealing it into a massive chemical plant being used to create bio-terrorism materials.
When the plan goes seriously wrong, Stratton and his team find themselves on the trail of a very bad buy with four drones loaded with a very lethal virus.
Our bad guy is Barovsky, played perfectly by Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted, Central Intelligence) as a motivated terrorist who isn't afraid to take the fight one-on-one.
Stratton's team is an interesting group of actors. Austin Stowell is pretty routine as an rah-rah American soldier, Connie Nielsen varies between bad and OK as our "M" of the story (she's no Judy Dench) and Gemma Chan fares better as Stratton's computer agile partner, Aggy,
Thankfully, the legendary Derek Jacobi is on hand as Ross, the only stable home life for Stratton, bringing some class and strength to the film.
The good news is the action scenes are first rate, well staged and exciting. The last half hour is terrific.
The filming locations in Rome, Italy and London are beautiful and well shot. The music score by Nathaniel Mechaly (Taken) is very good.
Cooper is very good too. He's believable in the action scenes and brings quiet strength to the more somber moments.
Just one week of filming, Henry Cavill (our current Superman) left the production over creative differences and was replaced with Cooper. Apparently, Cavill and director Simon West (Con Air) had more than a few issues.
Or maybe Cavill just read some of the one liners that he was supposed to read and just walked away. The dialogue throughout is seriously the weakest part of the film. There were at least a half dozen times I either groaned or rolled my eyes when a character unleashed a line that felt like a teenage screenwriter had crafted it.
With a better screenplay, this could have been a first class thriller. As is, it plays more like a good TV movie.
Stratton gets a battered and bruised C-.