British action thriller SAS: Red Notice (or SAS: Rise of the Black Swan as per Netflix catalog) is a montage of politics, betrayal, ballistics, and lots of killings. Andy McNab’s novel, “Red Notice,” serves as the foundation of its plot. It centers around a Special Air Service agent, Tom Buckingham, who consistently arrives at the scene in McNab’s thriller novels. Enough said, the “Red Notice” is just the beginning of an unending “SAS” film series.
The film, directed by Magnus Martens, is based on the adapted screenplay by Laurence Malkin, released in the UK in early March. But due to the ongoing pandemic, Netflix showered some love on Sky Cinema’s production to help garner a wider audience.
SAS: Rise of the Black Swan begins with William Lewis, who runs a family-owned private military company, Black Swan, on the British mainland. According to William’s opening voice-over, psychopathy (killing people) is an inheritable trait. Still, they are as rare as a Black Swan. Considering himself a psychopath, William employs his daughter, Grace, and son Oliver to run the family business precisely.
The band of mercenaries arrives at Gveli Pass, Republic of Georgia, to conduct the government’s dirty business. Britgaz, one of the UK’s largest gas corporations, wants to extend its gas pipeline through Gveli Pass. Still, a conflicting village refuses to evacuate the land for the corporation’s project. Military commander George Clements hires Black Swan to clear the path by fair or foul means.
Grace tries to buy the villager’s consent, but they open fire on the Black Swan. In retaliation, Grace orders to massacre all men and boys in the village, leaving behind the women to spread fear. However, their horrifying acts are recorded by a young girl on a mobile phone that soon catches public attention.
The British government issues a Red Notice for the Black Swan for their alleged atrocities in the Republic of Georgia. After the leak, the British PM (who hired William in the first place) commands his military advisor, George Clements, to execute Black Swan before any evidence can lead to them.
George raids William’s Habsburg House (Hampstead Heath, North London) with the help of SAS (Special Air Service). The SAS sends two of their best agents, Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) and Declan Smith (Tom Hopper), to capture the Black Swans. Still, before the infiltration, someone leaks the intel that helps Grace and Oliver to run away. However, George finds William patiently waiting for him at the dining table and shoots William mercilessly.
Grace hits back in revenge and hijacks Eurostream (a high-speed train that travels via the Channel Tunnel and connects Great Britain to Continental Europe). She plans to pressure the British PM to accept his involvement in Georgia’s massacre or pay ransom to the Black Swans along with safe passage to leave the country. Grace’s perfect plan suffers a severe setback when she finds out that SAS agent Tom is on the same train with his girlfriend, Dr. Sophie Hart (Hannah John-Kamen). The couple was traveling to Paris for a romantic vacation.
‘SAS: Rise of the Black Swan’ Ending, Explained
As soon as Grace hijacked Eurostream, Tom informed his buddy, Declan, at the SAS HQ about the attack. The counter-terrorist group cornered the mercenaries, but Grace was always walking ahead of them, as she had a snide (spy) in the SAS team. Declan revealed all the crucial steps of SAS and their intels to Grace. He helped her either evade or retaliate beforehand.
Grace killed SAS Major Bisset and threatened George Clements to admit their involvement in institutional corruption. But neither George nor the PM was ready for it, and thus they made a deal with Grace. Britgaz wire transferred 500 million along with Eurocopter to Black Swan as a ransom for the hostages. She also recorded George’s testimony suggesting the government’s involvement in Georgia’s massacre.
After the deal was done, Grace released the hostages except for Tom’s girlfriend, Sophie. George’s video was released online. Grace and Sophie left the tunnel through the unknown Britgaz pipeline in the Channel Tunnel. Tom followed them and killed Oliver in the pursuit.
On the other end of the tunnel, George found that Declan Smith was a mole working for Grace. George tried to attack Declan, but on the opposite end, Grace torched the entire tunnel. The explosion helped Declan to run away.
On the Calais, France frontier, Grace and Sophie safely left the Britgaz pipeline. Still, Tom showed up following her through the channel. In the end combat, Tom finally stabbed Grace’s neck and killed her.
The Fate of Declan Smith
Grace’s recorded statement went viral on social media. It established PM and Britgaz’s direct link with Black Swan for conducting their low-intensity ops and nasty business. But the government denied all allegations and cunningly accused SAS commander Declan Smith of aiding and abetting Grace Lewis.
After a red notice was issued on his name, Declan disappeared from the scene. He took away his share of ransom money that was reported around half a billion dollars. While the opposition parties lauded Declan’s heroic efforts in his battle against institutional corruption, he still became the subject of an international manhunt.
Though Declan had no idea that Grace would light up the tunnel, yet to be a part of a crime is being a criminal in a broader sense. But if one puts it under scrutiny, these actions are beyond right and wrong and are always open for never-ending discussions.
A Closure for Tom Buckingham
Before dying, Grace told Tom that they are both very much alike. She used the phrase twice in the film, which directly references William’s opening stanza where he underlined that psychopathy is an inheritable trait. One who harbors such traits could never fall in love or befriend anyone. Grace saw this trait as a gift, but for Tom, it was a curse. She offered help to Tom to embrace his talent and become a true Black Swan, but Tom chose otherwise. He killed Grace.
The internal conflict of Tom, whether he loved Sophie or it was just a mere infatuation, kept on haunting him from the beginning of the film. His longtime friend, Declan, quoted that, “I have never ever known you (Tom) to love anyone.” In the end, when Tom proposed to Sophie in Paris, she spoke similar thoughts, “you’re not meant to be married.” The psychopathic tendency had control over Tom’s empathy, but he didn’t let it win in the end. The thought of losing Sophie made Tom shed tears as he realized that he really loved her at that moment. The couple finally married in Buckingham Villa, Mallorca, Spain.
After the wedding, Tom received a call from his senior (Clement), who informed him that they had traced the ransom money along with Declan. A SAS sequel film would follow the lead.
SAS: Red Notice (or SAS: Rise of the Black Swan) is a 2021 Action Thriller film directed by Magnus Martens. It is based on Andy McNab’s Tom Buckingham novel series. The film is streaming on Netflix.