Beyond The Reach Movie Review
Ben (Jeremy Irvine, WARHORSE) is the best tracker in the county, the state, if you ask the local sheriff. But when a wealthy corporate shark, Madec (Michael Douglas, FALLING DOWN) hires Ben to take him through The Mojave Desert for a little game hunting, things take an awful turn in BEYOND THE REACH.
Ben is accustomed to taking out customers for a little adventure and a big kill. However, Madec is a different beast altogether with a fully loaded SUV that provides expressos for the morning and a high tech rifle that takes the sport out of a kill. Madec’s impatient, get-what-he-wants attitude, finds himself in the ultimate accident when he doesn’t listen to Ben and mistakenly shoots a man dead. But a man with Madec’s success, isn’t one who will accept responsibility for his actions lightly and what follows is a game of cat and mouse as Ben becomes the hunted.
BEYOND THE REACH starts out fairly strong, creating an entertaining premise in a unique and beautiful setting with the possibility of fun thrills. Both actors do an admirable job providing tension and an unsettling chemistry early on. Michael Douglas commands most of the scenes, taking up the grunt of the work with nearly all the dialogue. I was thoroughly entertained as the two men begin trekking the desert and Ben has to use his wits to survive an otherwise impossible situation.
The problem of the film lies within some of the outlandish and unreasonable actions. I can overlook the fact that Ben finds some super human strength and energy after being sun-beaten, blistered, and dehydrated all day. But what I can’t understand is many of Madec’s poorly calculated decision-making. Going full bad guy, Douglas showcases his talent even when his character and the film seem a bit foolish. Explaining his motives out loud for the audience still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as framing Ben would never play out the way he thinks. Plus, taking a little different approach in his pursuit could have ensured a more likely victory rather than the old Bond villain adage of “leave the room and expect his victim to die.” To his credit, Madec keeps a watchful eye, but from too far away to actually do much about it.
Despite some of the silliness, the David and Goliath story plays out quite nicely. Unfortunately, many of the motives rely on a tacked on love story, which also provides for the excruciatingly ridiculous ending. If only the filmmakers had stuck with the meat of their story and added more thrills of a half naked, barefoot, blue collar tracker having to outsmart the technology-reliant, corporate maniac in the middle of the desert, a true man vs. wild scenario, I think BEYOND THE REACH could have worked as mindless entertainment. As it stands, the absurdity is piled way too high with very little substance for the brief 95 minute run-time.