Review-Lite: SAS: Red Notice (2021)

Sam Heughan in SAS: Red Notice

It doesn’t take long to know that Red Notice, the latest Sky Original, mindless action feature is an emotionless, run and gun rampage of a movie. Not only is this detachment from humanity literally written into the script but even the characters that aren’t emotionless killing machines fit into tried and tested archetypes. Following guilt free SAS killing machine and posh dandy Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) who finds himself trapped in the Channel Tunnel with his girlfriend Sophie (Hannah John-Kamen) when wanted mercenary Grace Lewis (Ruby Rose) holds the train they are on hostage leading Tom to do his best impression of John McClane. It’s a simple and well known premise and one made painfully known to us from the very first moments of a film on the edges of political commentary but absolutely terrified of getting its nice clean shoes muddied by stepping in it.

Although some of the thrills are there, the plotting is the usual series of red herrings and clumsy fake outs designed to overcomplicate a feature that really isn’t that complex. Heughan is a semi-charming presence but Rose makes for a clumsy villain, all bluster no gravitas. Both are emotionless killers and the film throws plenty of fodder their way but without any weight of remorse or meaning behind it, nothing feels significant. Squandering a solid cast including Andy Serkis and Tom Wilkinson, the former hamming it up for cheap laughs and the latter buried beneath an atrocious American accent, the main issue with Red Notice is that most of the time it feels dubbed thanks to some questionable sound mixing and dialogue replacement. For a quintessentially British cast, Red Notice feels like a foreign film, one that never for a second feels like anything other than a pay check.


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