The success of The Interceptor, Netflix’s latest action movie, has been met with a mixture of anger and bewilderment.
The film follows Elsa Pataky’s J. J. Collins, a decorated soldier who, after complaining about the behavior of his superiors, finds himself assigned to SBX-1, an offshore missile interceptor platform somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
On the very first day of its work, the terrorist group enters the fray, stealing 16 nuclear missiles and planning to launch them on a number of major US cities. Only the SBX-1, capable of launching interceptor missiles and destroying nuclear weapons, stands in the way of the total destruction of the country.
The faction’s leader, Alexander Kessel, a former US military intelligence officer, lands on the SBX-1, knowing that he needs access to the platform’s control room to stop the launch of interceptor missiles. The problem is, in order to do that, he needs to go through Collins…
Co-produced by Marvel movie star Chris Hemsworth, who is also Pataki’s husband, The Interceptor marks the directorial debut of Matthew Reilly, the ridiculously successful thriller writer who is now making the jump to film.
The film had terrible reviews. A decent kick, actually, with critics pouncing on its overall plot, poor dialogue, and formulaic storytelling (Currently, Interceptor has a modest Rotten Tomatoes rating is only 45% (will open in a new tab)).
Despite all this, it was a huge success for Netflix. At the moment, it has been watched by 75 million people, and it is among the ten most watched Netflix films in 93 countries. (will open in a new tab)a fact that social media can’t seem to grasp.
Four minutes into The Interceptor on #Netflix and I’ve never seen such horrible action and dialogue in my life, but I can’t stop – how much worse could it be? @netflix pic.twitter.com/8IqfsnpyglJune 10, 2022
The thing is, all of these criticisms are valid – this movie does things that you’ve already seen 100 times, but, you know, sometimes that’s exactly what you need …
Sometimes you just need to turn off your brain…
I can easily understand the success of Interceptor, because exactly a week ago I liked it.
I am at a point in my life where I get up terribly early and wake up much later than I would like. My nine-month-old daughter, while not a fan of what’s on TV when we sit downstairs together at 5am (assuming there’s a floor to crawl on and plenty of toys to take), still needs keep an eye on her occasional tendency to bump her face into the fireplace.
My son, who is three and a half years old, is currently working on his relationship with the darkness and who or what might be hiding in it, which means it takes a lot of effort for him to fall asleep. By the time I’ve won this grueling argument, eaten something, and sat down, my ability to delve into difficult plot points, read subtitles, or deal with the multiverse has been severely, severely reduced.
So last Friday, after a tiring week, I finally ate and was ready to watch something just before nine o’clock. I needed something fast, I needed something that would keep me entertained without having to think too much, and I needed something loud to keep me from actually falling asleep. Interceptor meets all requirements.
It’s short at just under 100 minutes, its plot is so simple and to the point – I’m pretty sure the aforementioned three year old could follow it – and the action is constant and spectacular.
The film is also fully aware of what it is. It’s a mindless thriller aimed squarely at people looking for some escapism after a takeaway and a drink or two. The director of the Interceptor said so himself, telling Diversity (will open in a new tab): “I know very well what kind of film it is. I’ve always wanted to be a director, so The Interceptor was designed to be filmed cheaply in one place. this insane gonzo pace.”
His influence is obvious. “Die Hard”, “Rambo”, “Hostage” – any man (or woman in this case) is against a systemic action movie, in fact. He borrows generously from them all, but so shamelessly that it’s kind of charming, like you’re in a bar and see a great cover band. There’s a time and a place for everything, especially if you’ve barely slept all week.
I didn’t like the Interceptor. I will almost certainly never watch it again (although Reilly is planning a sequel and I’m intrigued…). But it was the right movie at the right time for me, and I bet it was for a lot of other people too.
I would never buy a theater ticket for The Interceptor, but this is where Netflix can really strike gold. The besieged streaming giant can’t just build around extremely expensive event tents all the time. What will keep my finger off the cancel button are action movies that look good on a Friday night, as well as flashy mini-series and big blockbusters.
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