Review: Passable Action Scenes and Mild Politics Make Interceptor Less than a Must-Watch

I have to believe two things after watching the new nuclear terrorist threat thriller Interceptor. One is that our first line of defense against nuclear missile launches from Russia have got to be more than two military-run bases armed with interceptor missiles; and two, that we have to have more stable and capable people working at those bases than the ones shown in this movie. I’m just saying, they make taking out/over such an important part of our national defense look ridiculously easy. Maybe it’s just me…

Interceptor tells the story of Army Capt. JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky), who finds her dream posting at the Pentagon changed at the last minute to a nuclear missile interceptor base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a job she had years earlier when she was sexually harassed by a commanding officer. When she reported the officer, she was nearly bullied out of the military for doing so. But thanks to the support of a few key co-workers and her veteran father, she stuck it out, arriving at this isolated posting bitter but ready to do her duty.

Not long after she arrives, a coordinated attack begins, taking out the only other missile-defense base in Alaska and leaving her outpost the only functioning line of defense. Not surprisingly, an attack from within begins at her location, led by Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey), a former U.S. military intelligence officer (and a trust-fund baby), who has an axe to grind with the government. The rhetoric that Kessel spouts is going to sound familiar and not as far-fetched as it might have 10 years ago. To make matters worse for Collins, Kessel also seems to know exactly what buttons to push to get her angry at the country she has sworn to defend. She and a couple others manage to barricade themselves in the control room, so they are still able to shoot missiles to intercept anything that is shot from Russia. The film is careful to make it known that the people taking over a missile silo in Russia are not part of that country’s government and are rogue players like the bad guys in this film. I feel like if this scenario played out today, we wouldn’t necessarily believe that the Russian government didn’t have a hand in this scheme, but that’s not the film’s fault.

Eventually, Interceptor becomes your basic cat-and-mouse game. Kessel and his small team manage to get into the control center, they make their grievances known to a fictional U.S. president and the country by taking over the Emergency Broadcast System, and they even manage to get a missile launched toward L.A. (Collins manages to stop it, almost by sheer will power.) Overall, the film feels small and fairly basic. There is a great deal of hand-to-hand fighting that seems more a point of pride than anything reasonably efficient in this story. But director Matthew Reilly (who co-wrote the movie with Stuart Beattie) shows some skill at shooting down-and-dirty punching and stabbing, so I’ll allow it. There’s also a completely unexpected cameo (at least until you take a look at the production credits) by a certain Australian-born Avenger that is utterly pointless but also mildly funny, and might be the only moments you’ll be tempted to laugh during the entire movie.

Interceptor is about as meat and potatoes as politically charged action movies get, in that the politics and action aren’t especially compelling, but they are enough to propel the story forward toward its inevitable conclusion. I found most of the acting fairly lacking, although Pataky has got something ferocious about her that is captivating, and Bracey isn’t playing a typical villain, as he’s always trying to coax Collins to his side with promises of money and getting back at those who hurt her. And while we never expect her to fold, she is tempted. This is in no way a must-see movie, but it has enough bravado to pull off a couple of its wild swings.

The film is now streaming on Netflix.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.