Interceptor Synopsis: Army Captain J.J. Collins (Elsa Pataky) is forced to use her years of tactical training and military expertise when a simultaneous coordinated attack threatens the remote missile interceptor station of which she is in command.
A wrongfully disgraced army captain fights against an insurrection on America’s nuclear missile defense system in Interceptor. Writer/director Matthew Reilly aims his debut feature as a throwback to the low-rent actioners of the 1980s. It’s a well-trudged subgenre – a fixture that formerly featured star-studded romps populating theaters before eventually descending into the desperate depths of straight-to-VOD fare.
Interceptor finds its home at Netflix as the streamer pursues watchable, easily-digestible content amidst decreasing subscriber counts. The subgenre’s recent track record doesn’t inspire much optimism, but Reilly thankfully devises a taunt high-wire act through routine action movie machinations.
Credit to Fast and Furious staple Elsa Pataky for steadying the reigns. As the gun-toating commander fending off an oncoming invasion, Pataky embodies her standard-issue role with much-needed gravitas. She plays the type of by-the-numbers action hero that requires elevation from a talented star. Thankfully, Pataky imbues panache as she distinguishes bad guys and spits out machismo one-liners at a frequent clip. Co-star Luke Bracey also draws a strong presence as the smarmy ringleader of the invasion.
By no means does Interceptor reinvent its core design, but Reilly does a good job playing to the genre’s high-octane strengths. The one-room design allows for a compelling enough cat-and-mouse fight between J.J and her cocksure foes, while Reilly’s script adds thoughtful inclusions to enhance his formulaic structure. Backstory elements, like J.J wrestling with systematic abuse at the hands of her Army bosses, shy away from rah-rah sentimentality in favor of honest character dynamics. At the same time, Interceptor possesses complete self-awareness about the type of B-movie escapism it wants to be (a playful celebrity cameo extenuates that).
Reilly’s hand as an action craftsman also displays promise. Working under tight budgetary restrictions, Reilly and Cinematographer Ross Emery draw enough playful sparks from the typical array of shootouts and hand-to-hand conflicts. I always enjoy actioners that favor creative set-ups over bombastic, CGI-filled clashes. Whether J.J. is stabbing foes with a gun barrel or fending off a kung-fu master, Interceptor features the type of unabashedly corny flourishes that should excite hardened action fans.
Still, Interceptor doesn’t ascend into action movie greatness. The inexpensive budget is ever apparent as janky CGI burdens the screen anytime the film shies away from its one-room backdrop. The script also suffers despite a few well-conceived wrinkles. Dialogue is far from Reilly’s strength, with the writer often hammering his points home through generic interplay and wooden speeches.
What the film lacks in memorability, Interceptor more than makes up for in disposable entertainment. Reminiscent of the type of fast-paced junk food I used to rent from video stores, Interceptor unpretentiously delivers full-throttle thrills where it counts most.