Could SAS Red Notice be Die Hard on a Train?
SAS Red Notice is an action thriller based on the Novel by formal real life SAS operative Andy McNab. Red Notice is an Interpol arrest warrant, alerting international law enforcement that the named person or organisation are to be detained for serious offences and deported when requested. To bring this to life, Director Magnus Martens assembled a solid international cast including Andy Serkis, Ruby Rose and Tom Wilkinson
The film stars Sam Heughan as Tom Buckingham, a specialist SAS operative, returning home having just completed his latest mission which was only partially successful. He has what could be described as a crisis of conscious as he begins to question how he is able to continuously carry out the jobs he does and just return home, switch off and sleep peacefully at night.
His girlfriend also has concerns around his emotional capacity. She is a Dr who has committed her life to saving lives and is unsure whether they can reconcile they vastly different life outlooks as a couple. The narration at the start of the film makes references to certain character traits being prevalent amongst psychopaths, indirectly asking whether those traits are essential for this type of work.
Tom is not comfortable with this image and aims to prove mostly to himself that he is not an unfeeling monster. He takes time off and arranges a romantic train trip to Paris with his girlfriend Dr Sophie Hart played by Hannah John-Kamen. He intends to propose, demonstrating he has capacity to love but like all movie protagonists, trouble finds him.
Ruby Rose is Grace, Tom’s primary antagonist in the film. Alongside her father and brother, she’s part of a team of highly skilled mercenaries who carries out ‘off the book’ black ops on behalf of various governments. Her and her team are betrayed and turned scapegoats when the unpleasant detail of their most recent operation finds its way online. The family become a loose end that needs to be silenced and realise they need to get out of the UK by any means. In steps Andy Serkis, a government agent who specialises in cleaning up such messes and provides deniability for the government.
These three groups all converge on a London to Paris passenger train and it’s here the film takes off and the bullets start to fly. If you’re a fan of films likes of Die Hard and Air Force One, then the formula will feel remarkably familiar as something you have seen many times before. The hero sets about trying to covertly take out the mercenaries on the Train with stealth rather than head on. He attempts to rescue hostages and feeds Intel to his squad on the ground who are trying to gain access.
Now simply because we have seen it before doesn’t mean it’s bad. While not spectacular, some of the cinematography is very nice. The English countryside and London both provide great backdrops for the action, maybe not on a Bond budget scale but respectable enough. Speaking of the action, the fights and gun play never hits the highs we have come to expect from films like John Wick. The set pieces are competent without being ‘wow’, they never quite reaching the over-the-top nature of most Hollywood movies in the same genre.
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The supporting cast are entertaining choices. This will be the third Sky Original film in as many weeks that I have seen with Noel Clarke (I’m beginning to suspect the contract for his Sky TV show ‘Bulletproof‘ has a bonus appearance clause built in)! He plays Major Bisset, Tom’s boss who gets mad every time Tom goes off track and doesn’t follow protocol. A previous collaborator of Noel’s, Ray Panthaki plays the British PM as comically weak and controlled by big businesses. This idea plays into many of the suspicions people have about real-world politics
SAS Red Notice delivers a solid dose of action, espionage, a bit of politics and a plot most would consider not too far removed from the realms of possibility. It moves along at a good pace and while it won’t wow you, it should leave you suitably entertained on movie night.
SAS Red Notice will be available in the UK on Sky Cinema March 12th