BEYOND THE REACH (USA/Club/91mins)
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Leonetti. Starring Michael Douglas, Jeremy Vince, Martin Palmer, Renny Cox, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Patricia Bethune, David Garver.
THE PLOT: The hunting guide becomes the hunted when American southwest desert tracker Ben (Irvine) discovers that trigger-happy LA businessman John Madec (Douglas) would rather not face justice for accidentally shooting a drifter (Palmer). Instead, he’d like Ben to take the blame. And if Ben doesn’t like that idea, well, John is just going to have to kill him too. Even if means playing fat cat and nice-guy mouse for an hour and a half. We know Madec is a maniac from the beginning, and not even an all-American idiot either – his car is imported, his gun is imported, and he’s about to sell his company to China. So, you know, the NRA will be happy to disown this particular gun nut.
THE VERDICT: A film all about a city slicker who comes bearing guns and grief to a small desert community – hmm, if only the makers of BEYOND THE REACH had thought of making our boy an Minnesota dentist. Instead, we get an unscrupulous LA businessman, played with relish but without panto baddieness by Michael Douglas (on something of a creative roll these days, with the likes of BEYOND THE CANDELABRA and ANT-MAN), the only almost-interesting element of BEYOND THE REACH.
Jeremy Irvine delivers his nice-guy Ben with a blandness that soon has you rooting for his bullet-riddled demise, whilst the cat and mouse thrills on offer are never even close to thrilling. Even Cameron’s regular DoP, Russell Carpenter, fails to bring this ferociously mediocre offering to life. This doesn’t even belong on Netflix, never mind the telly.
RATING: 1/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Beyond the Reach
Review by Paul Byrne
1.0Ferociously mediocre
  • filmbuff2011

    The great American desert has played the backdrop to many a western and thriller. In Beyond The Reach, it plays one of two characters who put a young man through sun-baked hell, only for him to come fighting back very much alive. Ben (Jeremy Irvine) is tight on money and risks losing the love of his life, Laina (Hanna Mangan Lawrence). A tracker for the mountain and rescue service, he’s tasked with becoming the guide for corporate shark and big game hunter Madec (Michael Douglas), who has just rolled into his quiet, dusty Mojave Desert town in a huge jeep. Together they ride out into the desert, whereupon Madec takes a shot at a moving target that he can’t quite see clearly. He’s actually shot a man who lives in the desert. Believing that everyone has a price, Madec offers Ben hush money. Ben hesitates, but then accepts it. But later on, Ben thinks twice and Madec responds by framing him for the man’s death. Stripping him almost naked, Madec sets Ben loose out into the desert to survive the elements – and the occasional shot. For Madec is playing the most dangerous game – hunting another human… Based on the book Deathwatch by Robb White, Beyond The Reach is a tight, economical thriller that is fast, fun and intense. Essentially a two-hander, it relies on two very different performances. There’s the 1% represented by Madec, a sort-of Gordon Gecko in his senior years, turned to hunting rather than selling bonds and stocks. The 99% is represented by the young, idealistic Ben who wants a better life, but not at the cost of his soul. Both actors do an excellent job, with Douglas in particular having a lot of fun with his amoral character. What do you give the man who has everything? The power over life and death, perhaps. The contrast between old and young, between amoral and moral, is clearly defined but Madec is not simply evil. Like in the similarly themed The Hitcher (the original of course), the antagonist is a far more complex character than he initially seems. Director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti shoots in suitably desolate and evocative widescreen New Mexico locales, recalling the westerns of John Ford and Sergio Leone. In an otherwise superb film, the only real miss-step is in the last few minutes. It feels tacked on, like a reverse Fatal Attraction. There was a perfect ending in the scene before. However, Beyond The Reach is still a tense and thrilling ride that comes highly recommended. ****