Interceptor

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The continuing battle for equality in the world of cinema has managed to negotiate many hurdles with equal pay and the treatment of women in the wake of the #metoo movement being addressed in ways that should have tackled generations ago. However, while women should be able to be able to do everything thing a man can do in this wacky business called film, the question of whether that would want to is one that Netflix’s newest action epic inadvertently asks as Fast And Furious’ Elsa Pataky switches out babysitting for Dominic Toretto for headlining the kind of ridiculous action movie usually seen during the 90’s.
Interceptor sees Pataky hopefully step in the bloodstreaked footsteps of fellow females such as Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, Geena Davis’ Charlie Baltimore and the large amount of action starlets portrayed by Mila Jovovich, but a tight budget and an awkward pace means that her aims are somewhat… intercepted.

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After the vicious bullying and hazing that followed in the wake her of her report of sexual misconduct by a superior officer, Captain J.J. Collins is reassigned to an Interceptor launch site in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as a way to keep her swept under the carpet. However, before we go any further, I should probably explain what an Interceptor launch site actually is; it’s a government installation that’s in place to intercept and shoot down any and all nukes that are fired upon America and its allies.
J.J.’s bittersweet return is eased somewhat by a warm welcome from supportive Colonal Marshall and workmate Shah, the spectre of misogyny rears its head in the form of her other workmate, Baker who is openly disgusted by her return. However, all this is rendered temporary moot when the news that not only have 16 nuclear warheads been swiped from Russian territory, but it suspiciously lines up with the other Interceptor installation in Alaska being mysteriously taken off line – shit, it seems, is about to go down.
As if on cue, terrorists lead by the toothy Alexander Kessle, storm the building and neutralize almost the entirety of the installation with a componation of nerve gas and bullets, but are thwarted in their attempt to spray acid all over the lanch controls by the fact that J.J. is highly proficient at beating men twice her size to death and will stop at nothing to keep these wannabe insurgents from getting into the control room.
With events being broadcast around the world and J.J.’s resilience being tested to the limit, the bruised and bloodied Captain runs an audacious endgame by the President and her advisors to trick Kessle into prematurely launching the nukes before the Interceptor is destroyed once and for all.

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While there’s a case to be made that Interceptor is almost distractingly “woke” in it’s ernest efforts to try and balance nearly 30 years worth of military led action thrillers, but theres a counter argument that rightfully points out that the works of, say, Steven Seagal could hardly be described as subtle, either. For every bombastic flick that glorified in the masculinity of its protagonist’s sweaty physiques or their prowess for “bangin’ babes”, director Matthew Reilly and Exectutive Producer Chris Hemsworth (Pataky’s hubby) try to ensure that their flick is imbued with a clutch of hot button topics to directly address revelvent matters that we all have to deal with every day. Not only has Pataky’s J.J. dealt with misogynistic behavior from within the military who have dubbed her a traitor for speaking out against an odiously handsy superior, but some of the villains either boast the hollow sympathy of an expert gaslighter or the xenophobic tendencies of a fantatical MAGA zealot who gives the usual “immigrant” spiel when giving out their motives. The film’s politics aren’t exactly under the radar, especially as the movie proudly features a female President, but while this lean into well-meaning diversity may be timely, it’s only going to count if the movie it’s found in is actually any good and that’s where Interceptor stumbles somewhat.

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Firstly, despite it’s sizable scale, the opening gambit act that sets out the villain’s goals is immediately neutered by the fact that the movie’s tight budget seemingly can’t stretch to actually showing it and so we’re told of everything that sets up the entite movie as it happens off screen. Try and imagine simply being told that terrorists had stormed the Nakatomi Plaza without seeing their slick plan in action and then try to figure out exactly how much that would damage their credibility – film is a visual medium after all. So the villains literally just show up after taking out an entire military installation off screen (which we’re supposed to just except) and then we have the majority of the action occuring mostly in the same control room, which would also be fine in a minimalist, Hitchcockian sense if the filmmakers could sustain the tension for even a micro second, but for all of its countdowns and mismatched fights, Interceptor is ultimately as nail biting as a relaxation CD of whale music. It’s the leaden pace that’s at fault here, which renders all the stare downs, double crosses  and one on one duels into bland mush despite how hard its star is obviously working.
This leads us to Elsa Pataky herself, who is actually the perfect woman to be in this sort of film thanks to her near endless, shoddy treatment in the Fast & Furious saga that saw her transformed from an incorruptible detective in Brazil to being a passive baby receptacle to Vin Diesel’s lead who eventually ate a bullet with barely a whimper when the franchise couldn’t figure out what to do with her. If I was her, I’d wanna take the reins of a take-no-shit action heroine too and when it comes to the legitimately bruising fight sequences, she aquits herself nicely and she certainly knows the value of a good coup de grace as she finishes off some of her enemies with all the sadistic flourish of a Mortal Kombat character. But despite moments where she takes out a goon by stabbing them in the eyeball with a gun or decapitating another with razor wire, the fights are rendered weirdly slow by some sluggish editing and some noticably weird blue screen work.

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Hardly awful, Interceptor’s good points are nonetheless smothered by it’s budgetary restraints and not even a stonkingly fun cameo by Hemsworth can smooth things out for his wife’s solo action outing (Seriously Chris, most husbands just spring for a bouquet of flowers, y’know). Still the sight of Pataky, a flack jacket strapped over a John Mclane style vest, beating the crap out of various bad guys is still cool enough to wish we could airlift her out of this movie and into one worthier of her talents.

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