Review: Beyond The Reach
REVIEW: THE REACH could and should have been a great little thriller. With a class warfare theme that finds an impoverished youth being hunted by a wealthy one percenter in the most rugged landscape you can imagine, this could have a been a strong piece of entertainment with some really ingenious subtext. But, while the exquisite location photography is almost enough to save it, THE REACH is a mess from beginning-to-end.
For one thing, Michael Douglas' character makes no sense at all. He starts off as a relatively affable guy, joking around with his young guide by quoting WALL-E and taking an interest in the kid's life. Sure, he's arrogant but within seconds they turn him into a raving lunatic, with Douglas mercilessly chewing the scenery, even screaming out in one scene I KILL YOU!!! while hurling dynamite at his prey. This abrupt change isn't convincing and keeps this strictly in B-Movie territory.
Jeremy Irvine is also very dull hero. While he's been great in movies like WAR HORSE, here he seems to have strictly been cast due to the fact that he looks good with his shirt off. When you're making a two-hander, with Douglas and Irvine being alone together for 80% of the running time, some kind of dynamic needs to be built up between the leads, but their chemistry is non-existent, although I hesitate to lay too much blame at Irvine's feet, as he has little to work with.
At just under ninety minutes, you might assume THE REACH would be a pretty fast-paced movie, but once Douglas starts hunting Irvine in the desert the pace drags and drags, with him simply following Irvine at first, hoping the elements will do his job for him. It's just dull, and Irvine eventually finding a slingshot to use in battle with the heavily-armed Douglas is maybe laying on the David vs Goliath subtext a little heavy.
However, THE REACH only really gets bad in the last ten-minutes, with the goofiest tacked-on ending you could imagine, which got snickers from the audience at the press and industry screening I attended. At this point, THE REACH becomes full-on campy, while up to then it was absolutely dead serious. It's such a bizarre transition, and feels like a botched re-shoot, although I will say this; it's the worst, but also the most entertaining, part of the movie just on the merits of how stupid it is. Part of me wishes it had gone full-on camp earlier.
It's a drag that THE REACH is so lame. As a big fan of Michael Douglas, I was hoping for a rock-solid thriller, but instead this is just dull and despite the gorgeous lensing, feels like a b-movie. That's too bad, as with a stronger script and maybe a more dynamic performance from Irvine it could have been very entertaining. Count this one out as a missed opportunity.