SAS Review: Rise of the Black Swan: Unpretentious Action

The criticisms of David Pérez “Davicine”:
SAS: Rise of the Black Swan

On SAS: Rise of the Black Swan, a special forces operative traveling from London to Paris with his girlfriend takes action when ruthless armed mercenaries take control of their train. Directed by Magnus Martens (French toast), Sam Heughan (Outlander) headlines this action thriller with Andy Serkis, Ruby Rose, Hannah John-Kamen and Tom Hopper. The film opens in Netflix on August 27, 2021.

Being routine can be good … or not

SAS Officer Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) has decided it’s time to propose to his girlfriend Sophie (Hannah John-Kamen) and take her to Paris for what seemed like a perfect romantic getaway. But his train journey comes to an unexpected stop when he is invaded by a group of mercenaries led by war criminal Grace Lewis (Ruby Rose) with the aim of holding the passengers hostage and demanding a ransom from the British government. Buckingham is a trained soldier and his profession is to take care of the “loose ends.” With innocent lives at stake, and caught in the crossfire between his SAS team and the terrorists, Buckingham faces a tough battle.

The plot sounds routine … because it is, and for that reason it is surprising that they extend the film to 2 hours. It is an adaptation of “SAS: Red Notice”, the first novel in the Tom Buckingham character saga created by the former British sergeant turned novelist Andy McNab, of whom we have previously seen other live action adaptations, such as Bravo Two Zero (1999) and The Grey Man (2007).

This time we have the feeling of being watching a bigger budget movie, created with the intention of reaching audiences on a platform that is looking for an action thriller with impeccable shooting scenes and a good staging, but little else. Along the way they also try to introduce something that is the order of the day, and that is to show us that there are many psychopaths in society. Thus, they tell us what percentage of the population are psychopaths, and while Grace is clearly one of them, Tom could also fit that profile.

Magnus Martens is the one chosen to direct this film, who curiously we have more associated with relaxed and entertaining productions, but he has also directed enough episodes of series such as SHIELD agents O Luke Cage, in addition to the recent The Walking Dead: World Beyond, as to be able to manage the resources it has to get a story with a budget and an acceptable cast to be brought to the small screen. He may not have much experience directing action films, but he does manage to direct a film that will liven up an unassuming home theater session.

Lots of action but little narrative

SAS: Rise of the Black Swan is an action movie loaded with murders, explosions, shooting and fighting scenes, and a lot of bravado, and it manages to have enough tension and adrenaline to have fun without waiting for more than what it offers us, and knowing that we will not remember too much of her when I’m done.

The problem is that if as an action film it does not stand out, since there are better films both in cinemas and on platforms, it does not manage to have a convincing script and narrative either. At the level of the script, it lacks and, without knowing how good the novel it adapts is, it seems that everything is done so that the events happen one after the other, without almost developing the characters (good or bad) and knowing where it will go the story at all times.

The dialogues are frankly ridiculous, so much that it is surprising that no one suggested changing them. If Tom’s fiancée, Sophie, shines by telling a stranger how her partner carried her recently deceased cat with the intention of putting it in the fridge before going on vacation, neither does Tom stand out when he tries to get excited and it is completely embarrassing.

It is not good to say of an action movie that it is long, and it is that its two hours do not help to condense the action. Also, too much action without a compelling narrative to complement it is not perfect for a movie that can be hit the Pause button, or worse yet, Stop. Lots of action but little storytelling and passion.

Preparing to be the new Bond?

Sam Heughan plays the protagonist SAS, who curiously must bear the pressure that is felt to be a clear candidate to succeed Daniel Craig as James Bond, and here he gives life to a character who has the ingredients we expect in Bond: an agent prepared for complicated missions, quite polite and classy, ​​a good house and a butler who helps him on a day-to-day basis with his tasks out of the action, in addition to being prepared to assassinate with success and without remorse. But surely we would not have noticed what his character is like if we did not know that he could be the new Bond, and he is more effective in a role that sometimes reminds John McClane.

Around his character, Tom Buckingham, we have a romantic story with Dr. Sophie Hart, played by Hannah John-Kamen, and between the two of us we have some chemistry on the screen, but certain holes in the script may not allow us to see this relationship in a too credible way, especially when certain details of his work begin to be revealed that do not affect his life , and she is disappointed that he is not impressed by the murders he carries out. They do not look bad as a couple on screen, but they are so different, and they make it clear throughout the film, that it is hard to believe that they end up traveling together to Paris when their relationship seems distant for a long time.

Ruby Rose She is the one who manages to raise the film as the villain Grace Lewis, an actress who does not stop growing her filmography based on action films, putting herself on many occasions in the shoes of the main antagonist, being a role that fits perfectly with her style . We have seen her as a heroic protagonist in some movies but she seems more comfortable being a villain, giving the feeling of enjoying herself in the role of the ruthless leader of the bad guys on duty. The scenes between Tom and Lewis almost get deep but fade almost like the memory of the movie.

The cast is completed by renowned British actors such as Andy Serkis (exaggerating his role as a soldier cooler than an eight who passes everything and thinks he is always right), Tom Hooper, Noel Clarke and a wasted Tom Wilkinson (which deserved more time on the screen), who curiously, and without having anything useful, help to raise the interpretive level of the film even when the script seems to be weak.

SAS: Rise of the Black Swan It fits as an action movie to watch at home on an unpretentious movie night, which will distract those who love to see an occasional movie full of shots and explosions, but which does not meet those who are used to enjoying good action thrillers. Good cast and staging, but the script does not help us get hooked beyond certain fast-paced scenes.


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SAS: Rise of the Black Swan


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SAS Review: Rise of the Black Swan: Unpretentious Action