“SAS: Red Notice” is available On Demand this weekend and if anything, it does try to infuse as much as it can into a couple of hours to create an adrenaline pumping ride. It follows a group of well-trained war criminals who hijack a train while passing through the tunnel of the English Channel, holding the passengers inside as hostages. There’s only one problem, one of those passengers is a special-forces soldier on vacation who was intending on taking his girlfriend to France to propose. This movie is a bit “Die Hard” mixed with “Mission: Impossible”, sprinkled with a little Jason Bourne. But the question is, do these elements blend nicely, or result in a crowded British actioner that wears out its welcome?
Where “SAS: Red Notice” Thrives
This is a relatively polished action-flick that will provide those who love upper-tier straight-to-video action plenty to enjoy. It’s loaded with gun-play, killing, explosions, fight-sequences, and cliché bravado. Some of it feels a bit thin, but there are many adrenaline pumping sequences, and tension filled set-pieces to sit back and have fun with as this rogue passenger attempts to take out a crew of baddies on a hijacked train.
There was also a serviceable collection of familiar faces to make the most of cardboard characters on paper. Ruby Rose clearly seemed to relish this role and it adds a provocative vibe to her expression of evil as the primary villain. She carries the persona well, which I felt was able to sell her as being dangerous enough to lead this crew of traditional henchmen. Andy Serkis, and Tom Wilkinson, as well as Hannah John-Kamen, fill-out the main cast to pump some life into generic character molds. So, I will say this action romp does deliver capable performances, which in turn, brings the most out of the writing.
Where “SAS: Red Notice” Falters
This movie tries to be too many things, and the result is a busy narrative that runs way too long. Action movies are a great time. They can quickly have you up in your seat as the bullets are zipping around, and fists are being thrown. But too much action, without a truly compelling narrative to compliment it, can easily begin to feel repetitive. Even more so if the action is a little too one-note, without a certain level of creative ambition to provide variety. The result here is a string of shoot-outs, and frequent chaos, that after not too long, feel like empty calories. It makes the movie tiresome after an hour or so, and with a run-time hovering just over two-hours, much of the fun action-filled intensity you feel while watching, fizzles out by the final-act.
Sam Heughan serves as this story’s protagonist and technically he’s all you need for an action hero. Good looks, physicality, charming demeanor, capable acting. Yet he felt a little stiff in this film. Some of this was due to the writing of his character, but I think his delivery was missing that charismatic nuance that could set him apart from the many other hunky action leads. He was fine, you could even say he was good. But he was also missing personality to connect with, and that spark you can see in someone set to be a future action star.
Final Verdict on “SAS: Red Notice”
There certainly is some fun to be had here for action fans. It’s got a lot of shooting, and plenty of bloody killing. But it’s also thirty-minutes longer than needed. The hostage scenario has been done many times, and it has been set in many locations. It’s a plot that is easily stale without the right amount of creative ambition added to weave something fresh from it. “SAS: Red Notice” feels a bit like it’s going through the genre motions. It’s loaded with action yes, but it’s lacking passion, and it translates to a glossy actioner with a lack of heart and ingenuity, strung together with familiar action elements, and tons of cinematic clichés.