Film Review: Interceptor
Director: Matthew Reilly
Ambience Entertainment and Foryor Entertainment
Streaming on Netflix: 06.03
The 1988 action hit Die Hard was such a game changer that it literally created its own subgenre, with one of the most famous copycats being Under Siege. The good news about the Netflix thriller Interceptor is that while it certainly owes something to Under Siege, it doesn’t star Steven Segal. The bad news is that Interceptor is almost enough to make one miss him.
Interceptor stars Elsa Pataky (the Fast & Furious franchise) as Captain JJ Collins, an experienced soldier with a complex past. Collins is assigned to a nuclear missile interceptor base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and she arrives there just before a terrorist attack. A Russian missile silo has been successfully hijacked, along with the only other interceptor site. Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey, The November Man, Holidate), an ex-military officer turned mercenary, is attempting to seize control of the Pacific base to carry out an unthinkable, nefarious and utterly nonsensical plan to launch a missile strike against the United States. Captain Collins is the only chance anyone’s got, and she must think fast, stand tall and work her way through the trauma of an embarrassingly heavy-handed and tacked-on #metoo subplot.
Interceptor is a shoddily executed and laughably cheesy attempt to make Die Hard by way of Crimson Tide. First-time director Matthew Reilly is a pulp techno-thriller novelist who somehow wound up getting to make a movie with a script co-written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral), who also produced the film. The problem is that when you read one of Reilly’s novels, you can imagine the movie in your head being made with a certain sense of style and finesse and certainly with more impressive production values. Interceptor is going for the feel of a ’90s blockbuster but feels at best like a two-part episode of JAG and at worst like a daytime soap opera.
The movie is largely confined to two or three rooms in the sound studio—er, I mean the “base”—with a few borderline exciting exterior action sequences that probably took up the majority of the modest budget. Pataky has some potential but would have some trouble mustering up the screen presence to fully succeed as the lead, even with a director who knew something about acting. The subplot involving Collins’ career being marred by retaliation for reporting a superior officer’s sexual harassment is too serious for such a lifeless cartoon and far too hokey in execution to be dramatic.
Bracey is a likable enough actor and fares slightly better than Pataky, but his stock character is so badly written that it would be a serious stretch to call him good. The best—and the worst—performance in Interceptor comes from an intrusive, extended cameo from Executive Producer Chris Hemsworth, Patasky’s real-life husband. Hemsworth plays an unnamed TV salesman who starts cheering Collins on when Kessel starts live streaming his shenanigans. Hemsworth, complete with long hair and beard—dyed brown so he doesn’t look like Thor—and the same pair of glasses he wore in Ghostbusters, just stares at the TV and occasionally comments on it like he’s watching a sporting event. And yet, Interceptor has so little going for it that rather than making this a winking, one-scene appearance, Reilly actually feels the need to repeatedly cut away from the military facility that’s been hijacked by a madman who is being fought off by a tenacious shero so that we can see more of the TV salesman. If this isn’t a red flag that your movie isn’t working, I don’t know what is.
Inceptor is a slapdash waste of time that seems more suited for junk dealers like Saban Films than for Netflix. Even with Hemsworth bringing Sam Hargrave,the director of Extraction and a veteran stunt coordinator, to try to liven up and smooth out the action, the fight scenes are stagy and tentative to the point of invoking William Shatner fighting the Gorn on the original Star Trek. There’s only one sequence that borders on exciting, and it’s spoiled in the trailers. Hemsworth earns 20 house points for Australia for being a good husband but loses 30 for being a lousy producer. There are much worthier ways to waste your time and brain cells than Interceptor and too many superior steaming options to make it worth giving a chance. I’ve seen better film on teeth. –Patrick Gibbs
Read more reviews of movies that are, frankly, not worth your time:
Film Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Film Review: Senior Year