Picture a lesser James Bond movie minus the actual Bond part and you’ve got the gist of “Stratton,” a stale espionage thriller that possesses all the pulse-pounding intrigue of waiting in line at the DMV.
Dominic Cooper plays the title character, a Special Boat Service operative (the British model for the U.S. Navy Seals) working in conjunction with MI6, whose American partner (Tyler Hoechlin) is fatally wounded during their investigation of an Iranian lab producing biological weapons of mass destruction.
The lethal airborne pathogen ends up in the hands of a Russian terrorist (Thomas Kretschmann) who’s planning to unleash its disastrous effects over the middle of London with the assistance of a killer drone.
Likewise, the film drones on mechanically as director Simon West (“Expendables 2,” “Con Air”) bides his time between the obligatory but inspired action sequences by relying on a by-the-numbers script written by Duncan Falconer (author of a series of Stratton novels) and Warren Davis, which trots out all the usual spy movie caricatures.
Although the reliable Cooper (taking over the role from Henry Cavill) and the rest of the cast, including Connie Nielsen as his MI6 superior and Derek Jacobi as a crusty, seafaring father figure, valiantly do battle against the thunderous score, they’re ultimately unable to pump up a dreary mission that fails to adhere to the most basic rules of audience engagement.
Rated: R for strong violence and language
Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood