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Don’t bother catching ‘Interceptor’

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There’s no disputing that the proliferation of streaming services has led to a serious uptick in the quantity of movie offerings. However, it is also tough to argue that the quality of those offerings has kept pace. That isn’t to say that all streaming originals are bad – far from it – but the truth is that “more” has not meant “better.”

Netflix is the most responsible for this content churn, releasing multiple new films on a weekly basis. And while a handful of those movies go on to be celebrated critical successes, the vast majority are disposable at best and outright bad at worst.

The new film “Interceptor” leans more toward the latter category than the former. Directed by Matthew Reilly from a script he co-wrote with Stuart Beattie, it is a small-cast military thriller that unfortunately falls short on the delivery of thrills. There’s a bit of a throwback vibe to the proceedings – if you haunted video stores in the late 1980s, you probably saw quite a few movies that bore a lot of similarities to this one – but those whispers of the past never get to the point of actually being fun.

Instead, we’re given a generic point-to-point action movie, one whose plot mechanics make less and less sense as we proceed and whose action sequences – ostensibly the reason we’re here in the first place – prove to be largely bland and uninteresting.

Captain J.J. Collins (Elsa Pataky) has been reassigned following the fallout from her ultimately unsuccessful efforts to hold a former superior officer to account for sexual harassment. The blowback has rendered her a bit of a pariah, and so she gets a particularly undesirable assignment – working on the mobile sea platform command center that serves as one of two interceptor bases for the U.S. military. Basically, if the bad guys launch nukes, these two spots are the only ones that can head them off at the pass.

A mysterious terrorist group takes command of 16 Russian nukes with the intention of launching an attack on the U.S. And when the other base is taken out by an attack, it’s up to Captain Collins and the rest of her cohort to serve as the last line of defense.

But when the unsavory Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey) turns up on the platform, it becomes clear that Collins and the rest are next to be taken out to clear the way for the broader nuclear attack. Kessel and his band of mercenaries quickly seize control, killing or neutralizing just about everyone on the vessel. Only the central control room remains untaken, with Collins and a couple of others – loudmouthed jerk Baker (Aaron Glenane), quiet techie Shah (Mayen Mehta) – sealed in.

Things quickly escalate to a battle of wits between Collins and Kessel as the fate of the entire United States hangs in the balance. Help is on the way, but it can’t possibly arrive soon enough unless Collins and the others can buy some time, all while staying alive. Oh, and just because, Kessel somehow has access to the Emergency Broadcast System so he can broadcast the whole thing live for some reason. It’s all part of Kessel’s plan, but the one thing he couldn’t plan for was the tenacity of Captain J.J. Collins. Or something.

I’ll let you guess how it all ultimately turns out.

“Interceptor” is flat, formulaic and generic. There’s nothing particularly interesting or exciting about it; it all feels a bit inert and rote, though the truth is that at least some of its static nature is by design – the intent was apparently to keep the budget low by minimizing locations and cast size. Unfortunately, while they might have succeeded in keeping costs low, they also kept the quality low.

If anything, the film might have benefitted from leaning more fully into its general schlockiness; if you’re going to trot out a narrative riddled with plot holes and absurdity, why not try to have a little fun with it? We get a few glimpses of attempts at fun, but for the most part, “Interceptor” takes itself just a little too seriously.

(It’s worth noting that one of those attempts at fun is an extended (and extraordinarily cheesy) cameo by Chris Hemsworth as a big box store employee watching the live broadcast on one of the TVs in his store. This might be the point where you ask “How the hell did they get Chris Hemsworth?” The answer is twofold: one, because he’s an executive producer on the film, and two, because the star is his wife. Netflix might be the latest threat to overall quality in movies, but it’s got a long way to go catch up to that old stalwart nepotism.)

OK, so the plot doesn’t make sense – seriously, there are half-a-dozen moments in this movie that led me to say, out loud to my otherwise-empty living room, “What the hell is happening?” – and the dialogue is wooden and/or cornball. That stuff can be forgiven. It’s an action movie, after all. What about the action?

It is … not good. Plodding and uninspired, with very little in the way of creativity. Every sequence is essentially a worse version of something you’ve seen before, dull and predictable. And the standard Netflix sheen doesn’t do anyone any favors either.

Pataky is not up to the challenge of carrying this film. She doesn’t sell the dialogue and she doesn’t sell the action; one failing would be bad enough, but both makes the whole thing tough to watch. I’d chalk it up to a nepotism hire, but in all fairness, I’ve seen worse performances in more high-profile movies, so … damning with faint praise, I guess? Bracey looks and sounds like he should be much better than he is, but his charisma is practically nil here. As for everyone else? They are also in this movie.

“Interceptor” is illustrative of the issues that come with a philosophy of constant content generation. If you have to make stuff at this high a rate, you’re going to get some duds. And this one is very much a dud.

[1 out of 5]

Last modified on Monday, 06 June 2022 14:57

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