Interceptor—Matthew Reilly's Jump From Page to Screen

 | June 28, 2022

Okay, before we begin I’ve got to get something off my chest. I’m a massive Matthew Reilly fan. I have all his books, got a good chunk of them signed, and even managed to meet him a couple of times. For those of you who are rolling your eyes expecting me to just gush over his screenwriting and directorial debut Interceptor, just be careful not to roll them so hard someone mistakes you for a defective slot machine.

When the trailer dropped earlier this month, I have to say I wasn’t particularly chomping at the bit to go see it. Something about the trailer, whether it was the editing, the action, or the soundtrack, just made my brain go "Yep that’s an action film," file it away under A for action, and let it melt away into my subconsciousness. 

Throughout his writing career, Reilly has been known for brutal, explosive, and over-the-top action scenes–predominantly with his Scarecrow series and standalone novels like Temple and Contest that kept me reading to see what crazy thing he’d commit to paper next. The thing is, watching the trailer I worried that none of that trademark Reilly action had survived the jump off the page and onto the screen. Luckily, my worries were put at ease when the main character, played by Elsa Pataky, shoved her gun through a guy's eye socket.

Unfortunately, we don’t really get to see anything that exhilarating from that point onwards. Sure, the rest of the action is entertaining but I’ve seen it all before, with the exception of one instance late in the third act involving barbed wire.

The film is fast-paced in the typical way Matthew Reilly’s books are written; however, that fast pace doesn’t give us a lot of time to connect with any of the characters. That's something of a shortcoming with Reilly’s writing in general.

The Next Backstreet Boys?

The main villain is ominous and foreboding but when he gets a chance to explain his motivations there’s nothing of substance there. Most of the characters besides Pataky’s character are one-note–from the racist White southerner to the cardboard cutouts that form the main villain's band of misfits.

Now, this isn’t just Reilly’s screenwriting debut, it’s also his directorial debut. So how does it stack up from that perspective? Well, like with the action, the trailer left a lot to be desired.

The opening scene focusing on an Alaskan military base being overrun by terrorist forces was a real surprise as it felt ripped straight from one of his Scarecrow books. But the rest of the film doesn’t reach that high watermark again, though it does a serviceable job.

Screenshot from Interceptor

The cinematography in this film is like your town's sewage system; it’s at its best when you’re not aware of its presence in your life. Being such an action buff, Reilly clearly knows his stuff and used that knowledge to direct better than what I would expect from first time directors. There’s some slow-motion and certain shots that feel a little unnecessary to me. But then again I’ve never directed a film, so I’m not one to judge.

Anyone going into this film expecting a straight adaptation of Matthew Reilly’s books is going to be left disappointed. However, I found this film to be more fun than the trailer suggested. Go into it with an open mind and decide for yourself.

Have you seen Interceptor? Have you ever heard of Matthew Reilly? Let me know down below!

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