With almost nothing to redeem it, this Netflix movie starring Elsa Pataky and produced by Chris Hemsworth is truly one of the worst of the year.
You have to respect the scrappiness of small movies which do a lot with almost no money.
Even when there’s little cash, the strength of the story, the performances or the artistic vision more than makes up for lo-fi production values – think Kevin Smith’s Clerks, Sean Baker’s Tangerine or Steven Soderberg’s High Flying Bird.
Budgets are not the be-all-and-end-all of whether a movie dazzles or disappoints.
So, Netflix movie Interceptor doesn’t get to lean back on that excuse as to why it is one of the most banal, hokey and inadequate films that has ever been released by a major studio.
The story is set on an American military facility which becomes the last line of defence when terrorists aim 16 nuclear missiles at US cities.
Only Captain JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky) stands in the way as she tries to keep control of a series of interceptors that can take down the incoming projectiles while the villains including Alexander (Luke Bracey) are literally at the door.
Interceptor is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie. It’s as dull as watching Eisteddfod while sober and as nuanced as a pantomime populated with ex-Neighbours stars.
Actor Rhys Muldoon may be one of the luckier people to be involved with this sickly movie – his character is (spoiler) killed off 12 minutes in so if he’s fortunate, you’ll forget he was ever part of it.
Giving the directing reins to novelist Matthew Reilly whose airport books have, undeniably, sold millions of copies, is regrettable because he clearly does not have the skills or the instincts to elicit the necessary, even passable performances from his actors.
Pataky struggles to be convincing as a tough military woman with a traumatic past, with every scene pitched two octaves too melodramatic – a better director could’ve modulated her performance.
Even Australian acting luminary Colin Friels may wish to distance himself from this particular project. Let’s hope he and Muldoon at least managed to cash in some handsome cheques from their involvement.
Nor does Reilly have the visual imagination to make dynamic a movie that is primarily set in two rooms. Every scene is flat, as if all the texture has been run over by a Zamboni while the plot contrivances are so predictable that any tension or suspense dissipated during the opening credits.
If you’re constrained by locations because of your budget, there are more creative ways to stage your scenes so that every single beat doesn’t blur into an indiscernible blob with as much edge as fairy floss.
There are too many shots that look like they were filmed by the second unit and spliced in to mix things up, but the sequences are as aesthetically interesting as an episode of a second tier police procedural.
And it doesn’t have to be – don’t forget David Lowery made the transcendent A Ghost Story with a budget of $100,000, shot almost entirely within one room and featuring little more than Casey Affleck in a white sheet.
The action choreography is no frills, the visual effects look like shots from a 1996 video game while its attempt at framing its villains’ motivations as busting the myth of American exceptionalism rings hollow.
Not every Netflix movie is going to be cinematic or even entertaining, but this equivalent of a poor man’s midday movie is truly one of the worst efforts of the year.
Interceptor is on Netflix from Friday, June 3 at 5pm AEST
Originally published as Netflix’s Interceptor is a poor man’s midday movie