Beyond the Reach Blu-ray review
A man, clothed only in his underwear, runs through the desert. When he looks back, he wakes up. He meets his girlfriend outside of their trailer. She’s headed off and he helps her pack her car. Before she takes off, he gifts her his favorite gun and makes her promise she calls when she gets in.
The first call Ben (Jeremy Irvine, who starred in Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE, which earned him a nomination for Best British Performer of the Year from the London Critics Circle Film Awards) gets isn’t from his girlfriend (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, 2012’s THIRST), though. It’s for a job to take John Madec (Michael Douglas, in his most recent effort before he appears in Marvel’s ANT-MAN), a Los Angeles businessman with the right connections, “beyond the reach” of the Mojave Desert, where he can do some serious big game hunting. Ben inspects Madec’s rifle, a specialty item that is far superior to any Winchester or Remington the locals have.
The two venture out in Madec’s customized $500,000 truck, through the buttes and dust. It reminds Madec of the early dystopian scenes of WALL-E (which he gladly impersonates, much to his own amusement). “Beyond this point,” he says, “there will be monsters.” Judging by the promotional art and tagline (“What began as an accident has become a deadly game”), it’s clear who the monster will be. Indeed, the situation becomes dangerous when Madec accidentally kills a man and finds he can’t buy Ben’s silence, even by guaranteeing the sort of salary that could set him and his girlfriend up for life.
This is just the sort of villain Douglas is good at playing. Just the way he removes his glove to take out his money clip (never mind some of the sadistic acts Madec partakes in) can make the viewer remember the range that Douglas has. But no matter how fun it seems Douglas is having playing the character, it’s going to take a lot more than him pointing a custom rifle at a skinny tour guide in underwear to entertain viewers.
BEYOND THE REACH is a thriller that lacks thrills. Even though the movie is a take on the “most dangerous game” story, there are few moments where danger truly lingers—especially since Madec misses 98% of his shots. Yes, Madec is a fairly intimidating figure, but this has more to do with who is playing him than his motivations and desires. The character himself is flat, despite the efforts to make him somewhat human by giving him a code of decency: “We shook hands!”
Director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s sophomore effort (after 2011’s CARRE BLANC; he also has two short film credits for UN CLASSIQUE DU BONHEUR and 2003’s LES PAYS DES OURS) has a few ideas to make the more action-oriented scenes more tense (music being the key factor) and some of the visuals more gruesome (it might be difficult for some to watch Ben tend to his damaged foot), but there is just not enough to make BEYOND THE REACH stand out.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer faithfully captures the New Mexico landscapes, with excellent details and stable colors.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is also strong, with an atmospheric feel, strong sound effects and clean dialogue.
Audio commentary with actor/producer Michael Douglas, producer Robert Mitas and director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti: The trio offer a fine if standard track, with expected production stories and technical details for the duration.
The Making of BEYOND THE REACH (12:02): This standard making-of featurette looks at the story, characters and the like.
Six Wheeling: Inside and Outside the Ultimate Ride (10:27): This is more or less a commercial for the “sexy” Mercedes G63 AMG, the vehicle Michael Douglas’ character drove in the movie.