In the recent Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise’s heroic pilot makes the brilliant tactical move to destroy the enemy’s airbase before launching an attack on their soil. By the time the enemy realised what was happening, it was already crippled. The new Netflix film Interceptor has a similar set-up, but it peaks in its opening few seconds, when it is spelling out this fascinating premise in text on screen.
The US has two secret bases designed specifically to intercept and destroy Russian warheads, the movie tells us in those opening moments. It would take 24 minutes for a Russian nuclear missile to hit America, and the US would have only half that time—12 minutes—to detect and shoot that missile down. The movie begins with one of those bases being taken over by Russian terrorists, while our protagonist, JJ, heads to the second. She doesn’t know it yet, but the second base will also be hijacked by rogue elements, and whether she likes it or not, she’ll be the last one standing between them and the command centre. Talk about a tough first day at work.
A ticking time-bomb thriller that routinely undermines itself, Interceptor is cheap, cheesy, and poorly performed. A veteran of the Fast and Furious franchise, where she mostly appeared for a scene or two per film, Elsa Pataky is way out of her depth as JJ, a character that is ostensibly in every frame of the movie. She’s fine in the film’s fistfight scenes–shockingly haphazard, considering the involvement of Extraction‘s Sam Hargrave–but struggles to hold her own when she’s required to tap into some sappy melodrama. Not satisfied being a dumb B-movie, Interceptor gives JJ an unnecessary backstory that it proceeds to shove down the audience’s throats, perhaps in an effort to seem woke.
We are told that some years ago, JJ was sexually harassed by a general, but no action was taken against him. Instead, she was vilified for calling attention to his behaviour. The interceptor base gig is essentially a punishment posting. While this is a noble (and underreported) truth to highlight, Interceptor hardly knows how to treat it sensitively. It is also, funnily enough, the kind of movie that simply can’t wait to get JJ out of her military uniform and into something that is infinitely more skimpy. Not 10 minutes have passed before she rips it off and spends the rest of the movie in her undershirt, which happens to be, at least in the film’s final moments, completely wet.
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This is also the kind of movie in which the villain broadcasts his plans to the entire world, instead of, you know, quietly carrying them out? The movie further undercuts the tension in this scene when it decides that this is the best time to shoehorn in a celebrity cameo, which, bafflingly, is played for laughs. By the way, if you know who Pataky is, you’re not getting any prizes for guessing the identity of the celebrity. Later, when the villain takes JJ’s loved one hostage in an effort to blackmail her into giving up, he cackles, “This is what I was trained for, psy-ops, military intelligence, find your enemy’s weakness and exploit it!”
I realise that my description of this movie might suggest that it’s one of those ‘so bad that it’s good’ situations. Let me stop you right there. It’s so bad that it’s still bad. Shershaah, for instance, had better visual effects than this movie, which looks like it was made for 500 bucks. And guess what, even that seems like a waste.
Director – Matthew Reilly
Cast – Elsa Pataky, Luke Bracey, Aaron Glenane, Mayen Mehta
Rating – 1.5/5