Time: 124 minutes
Sam Heughan as Tom Buckingham
Ruby Rose as Grace Lewis
Andy Serkis as George Clements
Hannah John-Kamen as Dr Sophie Hart
Tom Hopper as Declan Smith
Noel Clarke as Major Bisset
Owain Yeoman as Oliver Lewis
Jing Lusi as Zada
Ray Panthaki as Prime Minister Atwood
Richard McCabe as Callum
Douglas Reith as Sir Charles Whiteside
Anne Reid as Charlotte
Tom Wilkinson as William Lewis
Director: Magnus Martens
A groom’s (Sam Heughan) wedding plans are disrupted when a small army of well-trained criminals hijack the Eurostar deep beneath the English Channel.
I saw SAS: Red Notice (also known as SAS: Rise of the Black Swan) widely advertised all over Netflix’s front page. I was very sceptical about it, despite the actors involved. It looked like yet another disposable Netflix action thriller. I went in with fairly low expectations and on the whole it mostly met those expectations. I wouldn’t say I dislike the movie, but I wouldn’t call it good by any means.
SAS: Red Notice does have a familiar setup, pretty much Die Hard on a train, however it isn’t nearly as interesting or fun as it should be. I put that up to the mediocre at best screenplay. The story is unoriginal, and the plot is full of cliches but that’s not enough to sink the movie. However, it is pretty much impossible to care about what is happening. I wouldn’t say it’s boring, but it isn’t all that interesting either, and the plot is rather forgettable. I think the aspect that annoys me most about the writing is the tone. Some of the bad elements of the script are bad cheesy B-movie action flick way, which could potentially allow for some enjoyment. However, this movie actually tries to be intelligent and thoughtful, and somehow ends up worse as a result. For example, the movie opens with Tom Wilkinson going on this long monologue about psychopaths. It does seem to think highly of itself and thinks its clever, and as such play the movie very seriously. This makes the movie hard to enjoy even in a cheesy kind of way. The ending is pretty ridiculous in the way it seems to try to set up a sequel. Even the final scene is rather laughable, containing quite possibly the most boring use of drone footage I’ve seen in a movie. SAS also runs for far too long at 2 hours long, and if it was 90 minutes long, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more. However there are so many scenes which seem to drag on, with tired and run-down dialogue that don’t add to the plot, characters or entertainment, and it just becomes tedious to watch at times.
There are some good actors involved with this movie, unfortunately they are generally all wasted with the very lacklustre writing. Sam Heughan is in the lead role as an aristocratic SAS guy named Thomas Buckingham the Third (not making this up) who ends up in a hostage situation and has to Die Hard his way out of it. I’ve heard it said that this is essentially Heughan’s audition for James Bond, if that’s true, then that’s very unfortunate. He does try his best here, but the role is incredibly boring and bland, and the character is rather difficult to like (and not in an intentional way either). I haven’t seen Sam Heughan in much. but I assume he has charisma in his other roles, however he has none here. There is virtually no chemistry between him or his love interest played by Hannah John-Kamen. She tries her best as well, but also suffers greatly from the writing. The main villain of the movie is played by Ruby Rose as the leader of a group of mercenaries. She did work very effectively as a supporting villain in John Wick Chapter 2, but unfortunately doesn’t quite work in here in SAS, and isn’t that convincing in her part. It doesn’t help that the character is just evil for the sake of it, not that this can’t work, but in this movie it just came across as lazy more than anything. Besides, Rose just doesn’t have the screen presence necessary to make that archetype work outside of the action scenes. The only actor I really liked in this movie is Andy Serkis, who at least looks like he’s having a lot of fun chewing the scenery in his part. Like the other actors, he’s given some really silly lines and moments to deliver, but somehow manages them better than the rest of the cast.
The movie is directed by Magnus Martens, and it really does have a feeling of a straight to streaming action flick, specifically one from Netflix. While the direction isn’t bad, it doesn’t seem to have any style at all, almost like it was directed by a bot instead of a person. There are some decent set pieces that are generally shot, but at times some of the action is shot in underlit hallways where you can’t tell what’s going on. Despite the serious tone the movie goes for and the attempts at making the violence ‘shocking’, it just lacks all the impact that it needed. The fight scenes are weightless, and the shootouts and explosions have some really bad CGI. With that said, the action is watchable and hardly my main issue with the movie.
SAS: Red Notice is a watchable but forgettable movie, which gets worse the more I think about it. The cast are wasted in underwritten roles delivering mostly average performances, the action is generic albeit mostly competent, and the script is borderline bad, if not bad. I can’t say I really dislike the movie that much, but it’s not worth checking out.