Man, you know times are hard at Netflix when it all comes down to this.
“Interceptor” is the marquee new release on the embattled streamer this week, a cheesy C-movie polished up to look like a B.
It’s about terrorists about to fire Russian nuclear missiles at the U.S., and a lone Army officer holding out at a missile interceptor station that’s under assault.
The premise might be one a lot of us can buy into — treasonous sellout American conservatives in league with the Russians. In this fictional future, #MoscowMitch, More Rubles Rand and the disgraced and treasonous former president aren’t in the picture, but “topical?” Close enough.
Elsa Pataky of the “Furious” and sometimes “Fast” franchise, and Luke Bracey (“Point Break,” the junky remake) are the stars.
And truth be told, I could have gone along with it — missile shield stations attacked, cities targeted for destruction, right wing grievance airing by the attackers with no identification of the Future Koch suckers financing the whole enterprise. It’s a version of an early ’80s all-star TV miniseries of some repute — “World War III” — with no stars.
Then, with Captain Collins (Pataky) barricaded in the launch control center of a floating mid-Pacific interceptor base, almost everybody else slaughtered by a hilariously overstaffed and treasonous “cleaning crew,” a ninja drops in. And Spanish-accented Captain Kickass must take him out to save us all…for now.
The sheer absurdity of the moment overwhelms the cornball tough-talk dialogue.
“Let millions of Americans die? I don’t you realize why someone joins the Army.” “Today, America dies in a PAROXYSM of FEAR!” “If you’re gonna kill me, just KILL me. No ‘mansplaining!'”
Worst of all, the ninja check-out scene happens in the first act, early in “Interceptor.” The dung flows downhill from there.
The brawls are decently-staged, and Pataky holds her own in them. She’s no MMA veteran or Noomi Rapace, but she’s a credibly compact combatant.
Bracey fights to hide his Oz accent, but oddly-chosen/oddly-pronounced words do him no favors.
The “messaging” — about the reasons her captain has been exiled to this outpost, the sorts of grievances the far right buys into on behalf of the far rich, Russian bad intent, etc — is broadly laid out and laid on thick.
But Australian novelist turned novice-director Matthew Reilly has no sense of screen pace –NONE — and no willingness to acknowledge the absurd in situations, set-pieces or dialogue.
“Did you just stab that dude in the eye with your GUN?
Throwing huge amounts of money at filmmakers and stars for overblown B-movies was obviously unsustainable for Netflix. “Bright,” “Triple Frontier,” “The Old Guard,” “Extraction” and “Extinction,” wholly-financed or even purchased at a cut-rate price when theatrical studios realized their misguided product wasn’t worth releasing, is a quick way to go broke. It’s also a quick way to lose subscribers when the house “brand” is “makes decent teen romances, but uniformly crappy action pics.”
One fears that this “brand” is further tarnished by business-model-that-works C-movies like “Interceptor.” A cut-rate cast, green director and a script so bad it wouldn’t attract betters actors or directors is no way to rebuild public confidence in your business, or its “Netflix Original” movies.
Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, profanity
Cast: Elsa Pataky, Luke Bracey, Mayen Mehta, Zoe Carides, Aaron Glenane and Marcus Johnson
Credits: Directed by Matthew Reilly, scripted Stuart Beattie and Matthew Reilly. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:39