Interceptor movie review
The Netflix release of Matthew Reilly’s directorial debut, “Interceptor,” might as well have a Cannon logo in front of it. The action movie is so archaic that it almost plays like an abandoned Chuck Norris script with some contemporary gender politics and social themes thrown in (albeit someone like Cynthia Rothrock could have easily starred in a movie that was virtually precisely the same in the 1980s). There’s something laudable about the no-nonsense hoo-rah of it all, and Reilly and co-writer Stuart Beattie of “Collateral” have created a film that the characters from “The Expendables” might sit around watching. Even while some of the execution is a little clumsy—the combat choreography is flat, particularly in the climax—this is the kind of summer escapism that people frequently seek as the weather warms up around the United States. It is now also available on Netflix.
According to legend, Reilly wanted his debut film to have a modest budget, a small cast, and only one set. Therefore, when he dumps JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky) on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic, a vessel that contains interceptor missiles, the international safety net designed to take care of business if a nuclear weapon happens to be launched, we know it won’t be long until something crazy occurs. For Collins, who was fired from her job after reporting her sexual assaulter’s superior to the authorities, this is somewhat of a homecoming. She is a soldier with no nonsense, and we want her on our side should things go really bad.
Of course, the day she arrives, the fan gets hit when terrorists seize 16 nuclear weapons from a Russian plant and point them towards important American cities. She learns that the bad men have already boarded the ship and have thought about the interceptor’s job while she and a supervisor discuss how this might have happened. The terrorists are led by an annoying alpha male named Kessel (Luke Bracey), and their only apparent goal appears to be the utter annihilation of the human race. Can JJ prevent them from accessing the control panel, where they may disable the interceptors and destroy the entire country?
Naturally, she can. A movie like “Interceptor” isn’t planned to have many surprises, therefore it becomes a test of execution. The majority of that is the responsibility of Pataky and Bracey, who quarrel in the midst of the gunfire and fights that break out whenever Kessel tries to enter the control room. Although Pataky occasionally comes off as a bit too stoic, particularly in the opening scenes, she is game for the action in the second half of the movie and convincing as the protagonist. Even though he too could have been a little more charismatic, Bracey leans into the superficial smarm of his persona. When there is a version of “Interceptor” that leans even more into its B-movie ’80s roots, dropping one-liners and great murders, both performances appear a little under-directed. As silly and riddled with story holes as it is (although Pataky’s husband and executive producer Chris Hemsworth’s cameo is kind of fun), the movie nearly takes itself too seriously.
The action is mostly shot in a way that gets the job done but little more, so it could have been wonderful to lean into style a little more. That evaluation applies to “Interceptor” as a whole at the end. It’s okay. It completes the task. Just finishing the work feels like a small miracle considering how many bad action movies have appeared on VOD and streaming services in recent years. However, Chuck Norris would have enjoyed it more.