Interceptor Review

by Natalie Kiser

Plot: The tough and reality-bruised Captain JJ Collins finds herself in charge of a lone nuclear missile interceptor base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after she is wrongfully drummed out of her dream job at the Pentagon. When a simultaneous coordinated attack then threatens the base itself, Collins comes face-to-face with the charismatic yet crooked Alexander Kessel, a former US military intelligence officer intent on carrying out an unthinkable plan. With only minutes on the clock, Collins must utilize her years of tactical training and military expertise to determine who she can trust and stop Kessel and his covert mercenaries from completing their twisted and terrible mission.

Review: Back in high school, I worked at a Blockbuster Video. It was one of the greatest times of my movie fan life. With rows and rows of films at my disposal, I watched some of the best and some of the worst that Hollywood had to offer. There were also tons of hidden gems littering the shelves that remain favorites to this day. But, for every solid B-movie, there were multiple awful ones. As the years have gone on, Redbox became a mecca for these atrocious direct to disc flicks and now Netflix is becoming the streaming hub for this dreck. Despite a fairly polished trailer and a promising star in Elsa Pataky, Netflix’s new action movie Interceptor is a movie that would have been constantly checked out from my old video store despite being an absolutely pisspoor excuse for a movie.

Elsa Pataky has the prowess to be an action heroine from a physical standpoint as her work in the fight sequences in Interceptor is solid, but as an actress, she deserved a much stronger script than what she has here. Interceptor opens with on-screen text explaining that it only takes 24 minutes for Russian missiles to hit the United States and there are two points halfway between the countries where the military is positioned to stop an attack. It starts out seeming like this movie may be a timely thriller capitalizing on tensions between the two superpowers, but it instead digs into an even more timely and misguided focus: woke culture. Taking on elements of the #MeToo movement along with some references to Twitter, gig economy, and similar contemporary buzzwords, Interceptor feels like it was written to try and sound more relevant than it actually is.

As it turns out, the terrorists are actually Americans who yearn to take things back to the way the country used to be. It seems odd that the only way to do that would be to annihilate their homeland, but that is the plan put forth by their ringleader, Alexander Kessell (Luke Bracey). After their plan fails thanks to the intervention of JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky), the rest of the film is spent with the bad guys trying to break into the windowless control room where Collins defends the system that can stop the oncoming missiles. For the next ninety minutes, most of what we see on screen are the characters talking to each other via computers and webcams while the film is intercut with footage of CGI missiles, helicopters, and planes flying through the air. Almost all of the action comes in spurts of hand-to-hand fights that end with over-the-top brutality that the twelve-year-old in me kind of enjoyed.

The film also adds the heavy-handed subplot that Collins previously left her post on the base due to a commanding officer sexually harassing her. When her claim fell on deaf ears, Collins was relocated before making her way back to the mid-ocean location. While I fully support anyone calling out inappropriate behavior in the workplace, this element of the story never really serves much purpose other than to call attention to the fact that such incidents are no longer acceptable. The same goes for the terrorists who are vaguely Trump-esque in their mission to take things in America back to the way they “used to be”. Interceptor consistently feels like it is trying to force-feed a woke message that is hampered by truly awful writing.

Making his feature directorial debut, novelist Matthew Reilly co-wrote the screenplay for Interceptor with Stuart Beattie, best known for Collateral, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi. The pair of writers cannot make a lick of sense out of this story which feels like a convoluted political plot that exists simply to explain why this story is set in a single location. I can better explain it as Netflix executives saying to the producers that they would fund a cheap version of Under Siege meets Die Hard on the condition that it requires minimal sets and feature a primarily Australian cast. If that was all they wanted, they got the cheap part but this movie is nowhere near as fun as Under Siege or Die Hard. When you hope for Steven Seagal, you know you are in trouble.

Even if you are looking for a film that you can turn on and let your brain fall apart, you could do so much better than Interceptor. From the truly bad acting to the inane dialogue, this movie has nothing going for it outside of the action sequences. But, there are only so many times you can watch the five-foot-three Pataky beat the ever-loving hell out of a six-foot-four mercenary and find it remotely believable. At first, some truly creative kills kept my hopes up that this movie would turn out to be a hidden gem of an action flick but after every fight ends up being almost exactly the same, I realized this is no hidden gem but just a big turn and a waste of time. Stay away.

4