It's been a long time since Michael Douglas made the world cower at his tailored shoes in Wall Street. Not content with having another go at Gekko in Wall Street 2, Douglas is again cast as a shady businessman in Beyond the Reach; a man who is more likely to make you tremble than the average suited and booted psychopath who works in finance.
When Douglas' successful company owner Madec wants something, he gets it. If he wants to go hunting out in the middle of the desert with his imported rifle and 6-wheel off-road vehicle, then he merely bribes the local sheriff, pays the deputy to take him out shooting and sets off into the unforgiving sun.
Deputy Ben (Jeremy Irvine) has just lost his girlfriend as she has headed out of the dead end town to go off for more schooling. Girl troubles are soon the least of Ben's worries, though, as Madec accidentally shoots Old Charlie, a local drifter, and decides that as he has a huge business deal about to go through, a death on his hands would not be good for PR. When Ben chooses not to go along with Madec’s plans, the deputy becomes the hunted as Madec would rather watch him die than have his accident revealed.
Beyond the Reach has a neat little premise but does not have faith in the attention of its audience. The build up and the relationship between Madec and Ben is interesting and, as it hits its first major plot point, it has the potential to be a gripping thriller. However, the relationship between the two men could have been developed, moving beyond merely a bit of bonding over Wall-E references. The morality of taking bribes and hunting for sport could also have been explored further, but Beyond the Reach goes straight for action.
Just as it seems that the script has settled into a slow-burn survival thriller, the plot is packed full of unlikely incidents that keeps things moving at a decent pace but also strain credibility far beyond the breaking point. The cinematography and editing accentuate the heat and the danger of exposure that Ben is facing, but slowly dying of thirst or exhaustion would not an action-packed film make.
Instead, Douglas slowly goes full maniac, acting like a complete psychotic while throwing dynamite at Ben, shouting lines like “It's your birthday, light the candle”. If that sounds ridiculous, wait until the script descends into a third act that is swift, underwhelming and sadly beyond ludicrous.
Jeremy Irvine is decent enough as the hunted young lover boy haunted by flashbacks to happier times with his girlfriend, while Douglas is clearly having a good time as a truly ruthless business-bastard. Beyond the Reach tries to inject a little subtext about business ethics, but it’s too little too late. What could have been a smart, tense thriller devolves into something so silly, you might think the screenwriter has been staring at the sun too long.
BEYOND THE REACH / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JEAN-BAPTISTE LEONETTI / SCREENPLAY: STEPHEN SUSCO / STARRING: MICHAEL DOUGLAS, JEREMY IRVINE, MARTIN PALMER, RONNY COX / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 12TH