Monday, March 15, 2021

SAS: Red Notice

There has already been a “Die Hard on a train,” so that must make this “Under Siege II in the Chunnel,” naturally with a British accent. Fortunately, when a rogue mercenary outfit takes a Paris-bound train hostage, a highly-skilled SAS commando also happens to be on-board. Tom Buckingham is determined to bring them down and protect his [hopefully future] fiancée in Magnus Martens’ SAS: Red Notice, adapted from Andy McNab’s novel, which releases this Tuesday on-demand.

Tom Buckingham is a blue blood more in the tradition of Elizabeth than Harry. Despite his vast estates, he believes in doing his duty for queen and country as a member of Special Air Service (SAS) counter-terrorism force. When his country calls, he hauls, even if that means leaving behind the not-always-so-understanding Dr. Sophie Hart. They are very different people, but he still intends to propose in Paris, after completing his mostly successful mission against the so-called “Black Swans.”

William Lewis’ Swans were caught on cell-phone video torching a Georgian Republic village to make way for a Britgaz pipeline. Of course, the British PM and his deep-state military advisor George Clements hired them for the job, but they publicly disavow all knowledge. The SAS executed a Red Notice on the Swans, but they did not secure Lewis’s daughter and presumptive successor Grace, or her thuggish brother (and pseudo-rival) Olly. No mere loose ends, the Lewis siblings take over the Chunnel train as part of a complicated plot to embarrass the PM and avenge their father, but they didn’t anticipate interference from a “player” like Buckingham.

So, in less than six months, Ruby Rose has gone from playing the
Die Hard-style hero in The Doorman to playing the Die Hard villain in Red Notice. She chews the scenery serviceably as Grace Lewis, but she still can’t match the great Tom Wilkinson’s slyness as Papa Black Swan.

Sam Heughan certainly looks the part of the square-jawed, blue-blooded Buckingham, but his chemistry with Hannah John-Kamen’s Dr. Hart is also surprisingly engaging. The arc of their relationship works much better than you would expect from this type of film. Regrettably, Andy Serkis is badly miscast as the shadowy Clements. However, it is amusing to see Noel Clarke from
Bulletproof play against type as Buckingham’s by-the-book commander, Maj. Bisset. Frankly, most of the supporting players are just cardboard stick figures, but Jing Lusi definitely stands out in the right way as the somewhat erratic Black Swan, Zada.

We have seen this kind of thing before, but Martens (who has scores of TV credits after helming the amusing Jo Nesbo adaptation,
Jackpot) executes with a high level of energy and an acceptable degree of believability (even though the conspiratorial stuff is a bit too cynical for the movie’s own good). It is also nice to see the SAS get their due on-screen. Recommended as a fish-and-chips kind of British action movie, SAS: Red Notice releases on-demand tomorrow (3/16).