The return of Michael Douglas continues. After his Emmy winning performance as Liberace in Behind The Candelabra he has taken on a number of major acting roles. This year we have already seen him as Hank Pym in the Marvel movie Ant-Man. His latest is the thriller, Beyond The Reach.
Set in the sombre beauty of the Mojave desert, the film is a tense thriller where the stakes could not be higher. Ben (Jeremy Irvine) is a young tracker for hire working out of the local sheriff’s office. He is recommended for an unusual tracking job. It is the off season and but the promise of a good pay day and a quick hunt help to make up his mind to take it on. The client is John Madec (Michael Douglas), a millionaire businessman who tends to get exactly what he wants. He has been after a permit to hunt in the area for over a decade and he is intent on making the most of it. Things go spectacularly awry when Madec accidentally kills an old prospector. When Ben refuses to cover up the incident Madec makes him the target of the hunt.
Douglas is the real stand out in what can only be described as a weak film. His character is not particularly well developed and it lessens the impact of the character and in turn the effectiveness of the whole film. We get a sense of what the character is all about the first time he is on screen. He comes across as an arrogant and self-centred man. Everything about him says money; His imported rifle, his over the top truck. He reminds me of an evil villain in an old movie and not some ruthless businessman.
Unfortunately for the story to work he has to be like that. There is no room for subtlety or shading. It would have been OK if the story didn’t call for him to have sudden bouts of stupidity for no reason. After the incidents Madec makes a series of bizarre choices which can only be for plot reasons. They do not make any sense and go against what we believe the character to be. A ruthless business man doesn’t prosper by doing stupid things so why should Madec act like that now? It is out of character and really pulls you out of the film.
The sub plots unfortunately do not add anything to the film. They are there to create depth in the drama and raise the stakes. They don’t. The character of Ben has dreams where he apparently sees the future. This is only seen at the very start and again at the very end. Never in-between and never mentioned by anyone. At the same time as he is on the hunt Madec is selling his company. So there is a whole bit about how he has to make a call at a certain time or the sale will be in jeopardy. Again it makes no sense given the apparent nature of Madec. To the film’s credit it looks great. The open expanses of the Mojave desert are well used to convey just how isolated from the world the two leads are.
Overall, a wasted opportunity. This could have been a tight and gripping thriller. Characterisation and plot let it down.
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