THIS beyond stupid and mind-numbingly dull action-thriller tries to set itself up as the kicking off point for a new franchise. Instead it ends up being an easy contender for one of the worst films to grace our cinema screens so far this year.

Based on the series of books by former commando Duncan Falconer (who also co-wrote the script), it centres on Special Boat Service (SBS) operative John Stratton (Dominic Cooper) who leads the ultra-secretive service on dangerous and highly classified missions around the world.

After a mission gone awry, including his partner being killed, he returns to MI5 headquarters in England with the rest of his team which includes techy and would-be love interest Aggy (Gemma Chan), the sleekit Cummings (Tom Felton) and on-loan American operative Hank (Austin Stowell). There he discovers that there’s a terrorist plot to attack the nation’s capital at the hands of Bond reject villain Grigory Barovsky (Thomas Kretschmann).

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If this all sounds a bit boring and lazy it’s because it is. Without a self-aware bone in its body, it simply trudges along at a pace that’s somehow both sluggish in scenes where characters drone endlessly on relaying mission information or what it means to fight for your country and in the action scenes all too quick to truly get a handle on what’s going on or why any of it matters.

Quite apart from the derivative plotting that seems to actively strain for incomprehensibility at every turn, it’s the titular so-called hero that’s one of the main problems. Henry Cavill reportedly left the film a week before filming which meant Cooper had a quick turnaround to fill those SBS shoes and it shows. It’s a wooden performance of an already thinly-written character, never making the eponymous man the kind of likable macho rogue that can often carry this sort of material.

Then there’s the action itself which includes everything from boat chases to a battle upon a London bus. But despite the film having good directorial pedigree in Simon West, the man behind the quintessential ’90s action movie Con Air, the action is as unexciting as it is a mess. It’s one of those films with so many ADD cuts in the editing that it becomes a headache of an experience to endure.

It all comes off as James Bond, Jason Bourne and Spooks wannabe nonsense, swamped with painfully tin-eared dialogue, infested with a lack of chemistry between any of its cast and plagued with cheap, bargain bin aesthetics.