Interceptor makes enough of its modest scale to please DTV action junkies until the next low-budget blaster comes along.
DTV action lovers will have a fine old time with the ambitious but economical Interceptor, a refreshingly unpretentious and sturdily crafted bit of junk food that does exactly what it says on the tin. There’s a very welcome no-frills ’90s throwback vibe here, with a lone protagonist outwitting a band of villains and overcoming both personal issues and overwhelming odds to save the day; it wouldn’t have been too out of place in the run of “Die Hard on an X” action movies that populated the genre’s golden era.
Elsa Pataky (late of several Fast and Furiouses) is Army Captain JJ Collins, who’s been relegated to security detail on the floating missile defense platform SBX-1. It’s a return to duty for her after both her career and psyche were savagely attacked when she accused a high-ranking officer of sexual assault. Of course, on her first day on the job, simultaneous terrorist attacks make her the last line of defense against Alexander (Luke Bracey), who sneaks onto the base and is determined to prevent SBX-1 from destroying his incoming fusillade of tactical nukes, which he intends to launch both for ransom and to provide a true tabula rasa for the United States, which he believes has been poisoned by bigotry and partisanship.
Both Collins’ background of trauma and Alexander’s somewhat relatable motivations lend Interceptor an off-kilter psychic energy, and Pataky in particular is a very convincing physical presence that has to hold the screen in nearly every scene. But that emotional background is never labored, even while Alexander tries to use it to manipulate Collins. There’s simply no time for any of that anyway, given the nearly non-stop hurtling through plot. Interceptor never settles down; as soon as Collins kills one henchman or solves some problem, two more pop up to take their place.
First-time director Matthew Reilly has done a craftsman’s job of making the most out of what was most assuredly a small budget. Interceptor sticks mostly to a couple of small sets, with detours to a green screen for exteriors of the base, all staged with unostentatious economy. The action is very welcomingly presented in longer takes and wider setups with a relative minimum of cuts, but despite Pataky’s (and the other performers’) apparent skills, the choreography is just a few beats too slow, and the editing frequently a bit too sluggish. The many (and still very entertaining) fights feel a little rehearsed, a little hesitant. Even with that caveat, though, Interceptor is one of the better DTV blasters to make its way to the screen in the last couple of years, delivering enough lightweight genre work to sustain action junkies.