Synopsis – A high-rolling corporate shark and his impoverished young guide play the most dangerous game during a hunting trip in the Mojave Desert.
My Take – Here I thought Michael Douglas was still a big name in Hollywood with films like Ant-Man (Are there anymore? I am not sure) coming up, hence it seemed weird that this film had such a limited release. Well after watching this film I know why! Not that its a bad film, its not great either! while it can satisfy the needs of viewers (like me) who love a 70s style thriller, it might not satisfy the needs of a wider audience. Based on a novel by Robb White, the film had already been adapted back in 1974 as Savages a television movie. The story follows Madec (Michael Douglas), a C.E.O. with a sport utility vehicle that costs over half a million dollars, who rolls into a small town in a $500,000 Mercedes truck looking to hunt bighorn sheep.
They’re out of season, but the sheriff (Ronny Cox) is willing to turn a blind eye for the right price. He calls in Ben (Jeremy Irvine), a sometime deputy and the best tracker in the county, to lead Madec around the Mohave Desert. Even though Ben is emotional in distress due to his girlfriend Laina (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) leaving for college he decides to take the bribe & enter the desert wilderness with the unlicensed hunter. Deep into the desert it is not long before an incident occurs that sets Ben and Madec, at odds with each other. Resulting in an old-school-young versus the new-technology-old in a delicious cat & mouse thriller. Honestly the concept of the film (nor the book) is not very original, yet the film manages to send us down the road of guilty pleasure. Director Jean Baptiste Leonetti does very well in showing us the inhospitable environment of a dry merciless arid desert . The best time of year to watch this is on a cold winter evening because you actually feel the heat blazing out of the screen . Ben being slowly tortured to death by the cruel , burning sun is what works best in this thriller though it should be noted that after a while you start noticing Leonetti overdoes the close ups a bit too often. There is also a major problem, it seemed the production team did not have faith in the simple premise of “Man being hunted in the desert” & as the film reached its natural climax there’s an extra ten minutes nailed on at the end that seemed to have belonged in an entirely different film all together which is rather perplexing!
Yet, the film’s plot moves along smoothly, and doesn’t dwell too much on Ben’s back story (he misses his girlfriend and can’t afford college!), or Madec’s background as a cut-throat businessman (he’s selling out to a bunch of Chinese businessmen!). Instead, the film myopically focuses on Madec’s hunt, a strategy that works until Ben is forced to confront Madec directly, and the film consequently loses its momentum. At that point, it becomes clear just how much Douglas has been carrying the film. But If you wanted someone to play an Alpha male control freak Douglas is the guy to hire and with this film he shows (again!) what he’s good at! Michael Douglas has played a number of relentless corporate types before, and here he goes to the extreme. His character is devoid of redeemable human values and just ugly and grumpy with money to burn. Madec is obnoxious, the representation of the 1 percent and its attendant privileges, many enjoyed at the expense of the working man Ben represents. Jeremy Irvine is likeable! His distress & will to survival is convincing enough to root for him! On the whole, “Beyond The Reach” is an old school man v man v nature survival thriller filled with cheap thrills and juicy performances, which are good enough to give a single watch!
Director – Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
Rated – R
Run Time – 95 minutes