The success of Interceptor, Netflix‘s latest action blockbuster, has been met with a mixture of anger and bewilderment.
The film follows Elsa Pataky’s JJ Collins, a decorated soldier who, after complaining about the behavior of his superiors, finds himself sent to be stationed on SBX-1, an offshore missile interceptor platform somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
On his first day on the job, a terrorist faction springs into action, stealing 16 nuclear missiles with the intention of firing them at a series of major cities across the United States. Only the SBX-1, which has the power to fire interceptor missiles and shoot down 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 SBX-1, knowing he needs access to the platform’s control room to stop the interceptor missile fire. The problem is, he has to go through Collins to do that…
Co-produced by Marvel movie star Chris Hemsworth, who also happens to be Pataky’s husband, Interceptor marks the directorial debut of ridiculously successful thriller writer Matthew Reilly, who is now making the leap into movies.
The film got terrible reviews. A solid kick, in fact, with reviews heaping on its generic plot, mediocre dialogue, and cookie-cutter narrative (Interceptor currently sports a low Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 45% (opens in a new tab)).
Despite all that, it was a huge hit for Netflix. 75 million people have watched it so far, and it is in Netflix’s Top 10 most-watched movies in 93 countries (opens in a new tab)a fact that social media does not seem to understand.
Four minutes into Interceptor’s debut on #Netflix and I’ve never seen such awful gameplay and dialogue in my life, but I can’t stop – how much worse can it get? @netflix pic.twitter.com/8IqfsnpyglJune 10, 2022
Thing is, all of those reviews are right – this is a movie that does stuff you’ve seen 100 times before, but, you know what, sometimes it’s just what you need…
Sometimes you just have to turn off your brain…
I can easily understand the success of Interceptor, because it hit me exactly a week ago.
I’m at a point in my life where I wake up very early and wake up much later than I would like. My nine-month-old daughter, although she has no preference for what’s on TV when we sit together at 5am (as long as there’s a floor to crawl on and lots of toys to seize), needs to be supervised to avoid its occasional tendency to plant itself in the chimney.
My son, who is three and a half, is currently working through his relationship with the dark and who or what might be hiding there, which means it takes a bit of conviction to fall asleep. By the time I’ve won that grueling argument, eaten something, and sat down, my ability to take in complex plot points, read subtitles, or master the multiverses is dramatically, dramatically diminished.
So last Friday, after an exhausting week, I had finally eaten and was ready to watch something just before nine. I needed something quick, I needed something that would entertain me without thinking too much, and I needed something strong to keep me from falling asleep. Interceptor ticked all the boxes.
It’s short, at just under 100 minutes, its plot is so simple and contained – I’m pretty sure the aforementioned three-year-old could have followed it – and the action is consistent and spectacular.
The film is also fully aware of what it is. It’s a brainless thrillride, for people looking to escape after a takeaway and a drink or two. The Interceptor director said so himself, telling Variety (opens in a new tab)“I know very well what film is. I always wanted to direct, so Interceptor was designed to be shot cheaply in one location. But what I would do is give it that energy, this enthusiasm, this crazy gonzo rhythm.
His influences are obvious. Die Hard, Rambo, Taken – any man (or woman in this case) versus system type action thriller, really. He borrows generously from all of them, but so unabashedly that it’s kind of charming, like being in a bar and seeing a big cover band. Everything has a time and a place, especially when you’ve barely slept all week.
I didn’t like Interceptor. I will definitely 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’ll bet, for a lot of other people too.
I would never have bought a theater ticket for Interceptor, but this is where Netflix can really strike gold. The embattled streaming giant can’t build itself around hugely expensive event tents all the time. What will keep me from hitting the undo button are the action movies that do well on Friday nights, as well as those lavish miniseries and big blockbusters.
Want to watch more great Netflix movies? We have what you need here.