Review by Cole Groth
With Netflix's recent comment that they would no longer greenlight "expensive passion projects" like The Irishman, it's almost comical that Interceptor is the first Netflix Original to release after it. Sporting some of the worst action sets in recent memory, this 98-minute Die Hard ripoff is such a painfully lame watch that I could not possibly recommend it to anybody. Lazy writing, horrific CGI, constant scene-chewing from the rather amateur actors, and bad pacing act as a plague to this week's Netflix release. Not even an extended cameo from Thor himself could save this from being a mess.
Kicking off immediately with overbearing expository dialogue explaining that "It takes 24 minutes for a nuclear missile launched in Russia to strike its target in the US," it seems like director Matthew Reilly wanted to capitalize on America's anti-Russia sentiment by making them the generic villain of the movie. While it's rather effective to make Russian assets easily hateable characters, this exposes the biggest problem within the film: lazy writing. Throughout the 98-minute long screenplay, finding even half a page of good dialogue between any poorly developed characters would be a genuine challenge. Each plot point is almost painfully predictable, and I would challenge any viewer to be genuinely surprised with the ending.
As the film opens, we're introduced to Elsa Pataky's JJ Collins, our John McClane-type heroine, as she lands on a floating base somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It doesn't take long for everything to go wrong after a team of Russian spies, led by Luke Bracey's Alexander Kessel, infiltrates the base and kills nearly everybody working on it in a brutal bloodbath. Kessel explains in an overbearing monologue that the United States deserves to be struck by sixteen nukes because of its frequent pattern of human rights violations. He explains to the other survivor of the attack, Rahul, an Indian man, in a condescending way that since Rahul experiences racism regularly, the country should be destroyed. It appears that Reilly is using the larger political divide that America has had since 2016 to exploit the idea that a divided country cannot stand. This idea within itself is fairly interesting, but not when it's explained in needlessly long monologues.
One of the most prominent issues this film has is that JJ Collins is an unlikeable lead. She's meant to be a John McClane type of hero, but she has none of the charm that made Bruce Willis' most famous character lovable in the first place. John McClane was a regular dude in a lot of ways. He had a wife and a son, and throughout Die Hard, it's made very apparent how normal he's supposed to be. Collins is humanized through her story of sexual assault and by her relationship with her father. That's not nearly enough to make her a likable lead. To counteract the nasty treatment she gets from her coworkers, she sports an equally rude demeanor. In a scene where Kessel holds a hostage and tries to get her to open the core door in the building, she simply chooses to let the man get executed rather than trying to save him. That's one of the more shocking moments of the film, and while it makes sense for her character to try to protect the entirety of the US over the life of one man, you'd expect her to at least attempt to save him.
Several moments throughout Interceptor are so hilariously absurd that it almost seems like satire, and these are the moments where it's easy to shut off your brain and revel in the bizarre plot points. To make a character instantly villainous, the script has him outline his rape fantasy for a few minutes, and it just feels so pointless. It's as if the writers couldn't figure out how to make him scary, so they decided to make him the most depraved human being alive within the context of the movie. Scenes like this make me question if there ever was potential for this to be good. Forty minutes into the film, a bearded man appears in a TV store, and it's immediately clear that it's Chris Hemsworth. At first, I was dumbfounded by the fact that he appeared because it seemed so out of character, but after learning that he's married to Elsa Pataky, it's clear he took on the role to support her. It's a sweet realization, but every one of his scenes could've been shot over the course of an hour, so it seems lazy, like the rest of the movie.
Interceptor reveals the sad reality about the future of both Netflix and streaming services in general. Since Netflix seems to see that making quality films is a bad business model, we will see an enormous influx of cheap, ugly, lazy slop like this movie. We're getting exorbitant amounts of content with every passing week, and movies like this have to have something that makes them a meaningful experience. Unfortunately, Interceptor lacks any heart or passion for filmmaking and is destined to fall out of memory within a few weeks.
Interceptor is streaming on Netflix now.