It’s difficult to defend a movie like Interceptor, because – and it gives me no pleasure to say this – it is simply one of the worst movies of the year.
It truly pains me to state that, because this Netflix release is more or less an Australian action thriller – an all-too-rare type of genre flick produced on this land. It’s also made by a first-time director (acclaimed author Matthew Reilly), has Chris Hemsworth (husband to the film’s lead) producing, and features a who’s who of Aussie faces. I did want to like it, and to some strange extent, I did kind of enjoy it, but more in the same way that my cheapness will lead me to think that I’m actually enjoying scoffing down stone-cold home-brand chicken nuggets (yes, so gross, but they’ll do.. until the next morning’s bathroom visit).
The film has Spanish actress Elsa Pataky (Fast and Furious series) playing highly-skilled army captain J. J. Collins, who returns to duty after being sexually harassed and humiliated by a general. Sent to a high-tech facility in the pacific ocean, which is America’s first line of defence against foreign missile strikes, she finds herself under attack by domestic terrorists who have aligned with Russia to obliterate the US.
Imagine Die Hard at Sea, produced by the folks at Sharknado studio The Asylum, although lacking the type of goofiness that some stoners could have a laugh with. Interceptor is preposterous. From the outset, Pataky’s casting seems to be at odds with the story, the character’s accent and background explained by a tactless throwaway line referring to her spending time in Spain. From the moment Collins steps into the facility’s control room, the movie opens itself to ridicule. The cringe-worthy set design looks as though the team received hand-me-downs from the production of a late ’80s Doctor Who series, and the stilted dialogue and rudimentary fight sequences conjure up memories of after-school television programming from the ’90s.
As an Australian co-production with America, Interceptor does offer a showcase of familiar and forgotten faces, providing an ‘I spy’ distraction to the overall calamity. Luke Bracey (2015’s Point Break, Elvis) plays the villainous mercenary with little effect and a flimsy M.O, while Colin Friels plays Pataky’s father and has enough makeup foundation caked on his face to be mistaken for an Aardman character. There are also appearances from Rhys Muldoon, Zoe Carides, Aaron Glenane, and Paul Caesar, and it is a genuine pleasure to see their faces together on the screen.
Almost no filmmaker has ever dared to make their debut with such a high concept film, and whether it was ignorance or arrogance that convinced Reilly that he could, he should be applauded for trying. On the literary front, Reilly has long been able to conjure up action-heavy narratives with Hollywood blockbuster flare; on the screen front, he’s sadly out of his depths. Filmmaking is, of course, no easy medium for a first-timer and to have delivered a product at all is an achievement, but a story of this magnitude requires an expert touch. Perhaps a couple of smaller projects beforehand may have provided Reilly with some of the experience needed.
The most curious name attached to the film is Stuart Beattie, whose stamp on Hollywood is unmistakable. As a screenwriter, Beattie’s credits include films such as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral, Australia, and 30 Days of Night, and he seems to be the most qualified person amongst Interceptor‘s crew. Upon reading Reilly’s initial script, he was said to have loved it and offered to re-write it. If this is indeed the case… one can’t help but wonder what the original script was like if this is the result of further work.
Sadly, Interceptor is abysmal, and most discerning viewers will (hopefully) figure that out before wasting too much time. Netflix is actually a good spot for the film, seeing as subscribers aren’t throwing away (too much?) money to watch it. Had this been a theatrical release, I imagine it would have been accompanied by severe audience outrage.
‘Interceptor’ is now streaming on Netflix.