As highlander Jamie Fraser in Outlander, Sam Heughan stole his fair share of hearts. But for his latest role in SAS: Red Notice – an adaptation of former SAS operator Andy’s McNab’s best-selling novel – he’s stepped up to stopping hearts as Special Forces operative Tom Buckingham.
“I’ve done a lot of action on the projects I’ve worked on, but never like this,” Heughan tells Total Film. “There’s some crazy stuff in there. Talk to Andy McNab about how to kill a man with a phone, and he’ll tell you how to do it. And he’ll tell you in full detail. It’s kind of scary!”
Buckingham’s knack for killing proves useful when he finds himself aboard a train in the middle of the Channel Tunnel just as it’s hijacked by a paramilitary outfit, led by Ruby Rose’s remorseless Grace Lewis. So far, so Die Hard (on a train). But what sets SAS: Red Notice apart from the action crowd, alongside McNab’s trademark authenticity, is the fact that Tom is what’s known as a ‘good functional psychopath’.
“It sounds very weird,” says writer/producer Laurence Malkin, who spent a decade bringing Tom Buckingham to the screen. “People think of Hannibal Lecter, and you’re slicing and dicing, and drinking chianti, and eating people’s brains and whatnot. But in truth, it’s a spectrum. There’s good psychopaths. There’s bad psychopaths. There’s functional. There’s dysfunctional...” Killing crims without a conscience? A potentially useful edge in combat, you might think. But as Heughan puts it: “Does this make him a better operator, or is it an Achilles' heel? It’s super-interesting.”
Also starring Andy Serkis, Hannah John-Kamen, Tom Hopper, Noel Clarke and Tom Wilkinson, SAS: Red Notice is directed by Magnus Martens and, as fans of the books will be well aware, is the first in a trilogy of novels. If McNab and Malkin have any say in the matter, this won’t be the last time we see Heughan suit up on screen. “The actors are up for it, for sure,” McNab says. “If people like it? Great. Sky and everybody have been fantastic. Let’s get on with it.”
Above, you can check out an exclusive image of SAS: Red Notice that features in next month’s issue of our sister publication, Total Film magazine.
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SAS: Red Notice will be released in cinemas and on Sky Cinema from 12 March. The film will also be available on streaming service NOW TV via the Sky Cinema Pass. For more on the film lookout for the next issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (real and digital) on Friday, 5 February.
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