Interceptor was directed by Matthew Reilly, written by Reilly and Stuart Beattie (Australia, 30 Days of Night), and stars Elsa Pataky (Giallo, Beyond Re-Animator), Luke Bracey (Elvis, Holidate), Aaron Glenane (Drift, 2067), and Mayen Mehta (Shortland Street, Fresh Eggs). It’s about a group of army personnel fighting off a group of turncoats who want to take over the interceptor station they’re controlling.
The Plot: Among the dozens of limited location action plots put to the screen in the past 30-plus years, the one cooked up by Reilly and Beattie has some of the largest stakes built into it, as nuclear warheads are probably the most intimidating force to be reckoned with – but that doesn’t make the rest of Interceptor any less generic.
Reporting back to her previous posting on SBX-1, one of two missile interceptor stations, Captain Collins (Pataky) gets word that the only other station has gone dark without any warning or reason why. Instead of leaving an air of tension for Collins and fellow soldiers Baker (Glenane) and Shah (Mehta), the movie quickly dispels suspicion by revealing that the Russians are behind the takedown. Almost immediately after this reveal, Alexander (Bracey) enters the fray and begins his attack on SBX-1.
Bafflingly, Collins was able to tell that Alexander was a bad guy literally the second she looked at him, even though she admits she has no idea who he is. With all of this straight-faced idiocy happening in 20 minutes, any hope for a halfway acceptable plot is out the window.
Somehow, the White House knows that the facility has been taken over and calls the soldiers to ask them what happened and if they’ve been taken over. No, that’s not a typing error on my end, that actually happens. Nothing else really progresses throughout the runtime, as a SEAL team is en route to the site and the two present parties are left at an impasse. Whenever the script isn’t taking beats from inferior Die Hard clones like Under Siege, it’s painfully static and underwritten with little aside from the setting to draw attention to the story.
The Characters: Countless movies have made palatable imitations of established archetypes, with some even getting away with taking personalities wholesale from specific screen icons. Interceptor tries, I think, to make its own McClane and Gruber but ends up with “Who” and “Cares.” Collins has been made a black sheep in the army’s herd since she reported an officer above her for misconduct, resulting in hazing from those among her. Tragic enough.
But the writers essentially ignore any present trauma even though there are flashbacks to attempts(?) on her own life. Currently, Collins has a huge ego that massively undercuts what the script tried to make out of the heroine. She doesn’t embody female courage like the creators want her to; she embodies a poor protagonist whose backstory is incongruous with her journey.
Alexander is a generic bad guy with a lust for money. Taking another page from action movies of the past, he’s switched sides to America’s current enemy: Russia. Neither of the writers has the guts to grapple with such a concept and put this motivation in the back seat so as to not have to deal with explanations; instead pivoting over to a scorched-earth plan, which begs the question surrounding its inclusion in the first place. His monologues are generic and short, wasting Bracey in a weak role.
Criticisms of the military-industrial complex are only done at face value, meant to trigger positive responses without having to put in the effort, which wasn’t a tactical decision to focus on development, which must’ve been lost on the way to the oceanic base.
The Action: Since the plot is more of a setup and less of a story, Interceptor has to rely on combat and the heat of the moment. Neither of which is delivered upon with the verve necessary to make up for the abysmal rest of the movie.
Instead of showing off what the enemy faction is capable of, Reilly opens Interceptor with a shot lingering on a bloodied soldier at the other missile interceptor platform while audio plays telling the audience what it can already see – and – just because the director thinks you’re stupid, pans over to the sign with the name of the base that was just mentioned seconds ago, which itself is right next to the dying soldier. This inability to show remains true when Alexander and his goons land on SBX-1, limiting tension twice over before anything has really happened.
Combat in the command center doesn’t take an upswing for the entertaining, as most of the feature is spent with Collins and Alexander staring each other down through two locked doors with only brief respites coming before the 50-minute checkpoint. The choreography between Collins and the mercenaries is stiff, with moves being slowed down and faceoffs unbelievable. No angle is committed to, so Interceptor tries to have Collins take down hulking 250-pound men in gory fashion, only to have her slide across the room after firing a shotgun, which is more confusing than enjoyable.
Gory deaths hardly make up for the uninteresting fights that are required to get there. With flat gunplay and a small roster of baddies to take on, I just kept waiting for someone to win the battle and put an end to the weak action scenes.
The Technics: B-grade movies rarely have the budgetary resources to make a masterpiece. A fresh-faced director doesn’t help the odds either. Pair the two and you could, if you’re unlucky, get a fully realized trainwreck of a feature. After watching, I don’t think anyone in the leading departments was Irish.
From the first few shots, it became apparent that the set design and lighting aren’t in good hands. Instead of setting the movie in an underground bunker or aircraft hangar that didn’t require many changes beyond redressing, the filmmakers went with a floating facility; a setting that doesn’t have an affordable real-life analogue ready for shooting rentals and thus had to be crafted as poorly lit sets that look like they’re on loan from a Corman production. Exterior shots are made with terrible CGI that already looks 15 years out of date, so there’s no escaping the look of Interceptor.
Reilly and Beattie’s writing is the worst offender out of the whole picture though. The script never commits to a tone, so it swaps back and forth from a traitor about to nuke an entire country which is accompanied by a dollar store version of a James Horner score to terrible one-liners paired with guitar riffs. Whiplash doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of watching this movie.
A misfire on just about every level, Interceptor is a prime example of why people make fun of Netflix originals. Rightly so since it’s so wrong on every level except for Bracey’s calculated performance. It may not be one of the worst movies of all time, but it’s one of the worst movie experiences to sit through.