VOD film review: SAS: Red Notice
Ivan Radford | On 12, Mar 2021
Director: Magnus Martens
Cast: Sam Heughan, Hannah John-Kamen, Ruby Rose, Andy Serkis, Tom Wilkinson
Watch SAS: Red Notice online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW
Sam Heughan. Those two words are enough to send shivers down the spine of any Outlander fan. Through five seasons and counting, he’s cemented himself as a leading man through and through, as comfortable in the show’s countless bedroom scenes as in its battle sequences. He’s gruff, tough, sentimental and not afraid of a cheeky wink every now and then. SAS: Red Notice gives him a welcome chance to take the lead role in a feature film. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t do him justice.
Based on the novel by former SAS operative Andy McNab, it sees a train crossing the Channel to France hijacked by a group of mercenaries called the Black Swans. Their mission? To expose some dodgy dealings by the government, or they’ll blow the whole train up. If that sounds like a morally complex situation in which nobody is a clear-cut villain and even the good guys make dubious choices, prepare for disappointment: SAS: Red Notice squanders any potential of political commentary by piecing together its plot in a manner that challenges logic as well as audience sympathies.
Ruby Rose is clearly having fun as Grace, the daughter of William (Tom Wilkinson) and the leader of the Black Swan team, while Andy Serkis turns it up to 11 as a figure who swaggers through the corridors of power threatening anyone he likes. Heughan, meanwhile, is tasked with playing a clinical, battle-hardened hero who is so skilled in combat that he doesn’t know how to love – despite the fact that he’s on said train because he wants to propose to his girlfriend.
The script swings between all of these unlikely things without any subtlety and, while director Magnus Martens (Luke Cage) puts together some action set pieces with real heft, there’s no suspense or fun to be had in what ends up feeling like an interminable ride – and an disappointing waste of Sam Heughan’s talents. Once rumoured to be a frontrunner for James Bond – a part for which he would undeniably be well suited – this isn’t the stepping stone he deserves.
SAS: Red Notice is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription.