Interceptor (2022) – Matthew Reilly

I’ve read my fair share of Matthew Reilly novels, in fact, I love the way he writes, tells his stories, and constructs his action sequences. Consequently, I was very interested to see what he would do when he got a chance to bring one of his action-packed stories to the screen.

The story follows Captain J.J. Collins (Elsa Pataky) who has just been reassigned to SBX-1, a remote missile defense platform (Interceptor) in the middle of the Pacific that is the last defense against a nuclear missile attack. It’s the only assignment that she could get because she ‘broke the code’ and reported sexual harassment that got a three-star general dishonorably discharged.

No one wants her around, despite the fact that she was the victim and the one who told the truth. So her old commander takes her back, just in time, because the other American Interceptor site was just seized by hostile forces, the Russians have lost sixteen nuclear weapons, and SBX-1 could be next.

The viewer is barely given time to digest this when the plot kicks into high gear with the arrival of Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey) and his forces as they try to take control of the operations room of SBX-1 and open up the United States to immediate attack.

From there we are given a fairly familiar feeling riff on the Die Hard tropes, one hero working alone to save the day from the baddies. And that’s not a bad thing, and honestly, I find Pataky delightful and love to see a strong woman kicking ass.

What holds it back is Reilly himself. His books are brilliant, expansive, and imaginative. Comparably, Interceptor feels smaller, which is probably a good thing, considering he’s a first-time director. He’s working off a script that he developed with Stuart Beattie from a story he wrote.

The downside is that Reilly doesn’t have a directorial style yet. Without being cruel, his directorial choices are obvious, and his film becomes rote because of it. All the shots and insets you would expect to see in action sequences are there and accounted for, with no flair or sense of improvisation.

Interceptor is a perfectly serviceable action film, it also has some onpoint political remarks. Pataky needs to do more films of these types, and Reilly should not only keep writing but should definitely work on developing his film style as I would like to see more from him in the future. Honestly, the way his Jack West Jr. books play out in my mind’s eye, they would definitely be something to see on the big screen!

Pataky’s husband and one of the film’s producers Chris Hemsworth makes a fun little cameo, but Pataky is definitely the one to watch in this film.

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