Beyond The Reach: Bad script, OTT acting and a confusing premise

Gone are the days when Michael Douglas was a good actor judging from his performance in Beyond The Reach.

The seasoned actor has a collection of fantastic films under his belt and it is surprising after watching this new one just why he decided to add this to his filmography.

One can only hope that Beyond The Reach is an independent film and not a new direction that Hollywood is taking.

It had similar styles and characteristics to those produced in the 90s and with no special effects or CGI the camera and actors had to do all the work.

This is not a criticism as I personally enjoy a film with less CGI however, this is not one that I would want to sit through again.

The opening scene shows the young character of Ben, played by Jeremy Irving, running through the desert just wearing underwear.

This should have been an instant impression but never judge a book by its cover right? Wrong when reviewing this film.

There was no explanation of the story or plot and no character development. However, there was a snippet of a back story to Ben who revealed both his parents had died.

After the short bonding between the two characters, the film took a new direction and seemed to be an attempt at a full-blown action/psychological thriller.

The narrative, if you could call it that, is confusing to say the least. The beginning could be interpreted as a film about two lovers going their separate ways with Ben and his girlfriend physically going different directions.

As the ‘narrative’ progresses a sort of road trip story with a father-like figure and a son-like character going into the wilderness and bonding together over their lives was also hinted.

These two frequently used and exhausted narratives were completely turned on their head as the ‘events’ unfolded in Beyond The Reach.

It becomes a hunting trip gone-wrong within the first 20 minutes which results in Ben walking around the desert in nothing but his underwear.

Unlike most films that give the audience a sense of foreboding towards the events to come, Beyond The Reach had no clear explanation of why these events were happening.

Could this be due to the fact that there was no character development? Who knows?

I personally enjoy a film that has intertextual links and references to other films and Beyond The Reach did not fail to do so which did humour me for roughly five seconds.

Instead of referencing a similar film such as one of Sergio Leone’s iconic scores from one of his Spaghetti Westerns, Michael Douglas’ character quoted the Pixar, animated children’ film Wall-E.

Why this film? Maybe it was an attempt to reinforce the isolation of the characters? Or maybe the director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti didn’t think things through when reading the script?

I’m not a script writing or film director but even I know that there is no link between an action/psychological thriller to a Pixar animation that focuses on a robot.

The concept of humans against nature was an interesting point that the film brought up however there were no realistic developments.

Ben, for instance, walks in the scorching sun for nearly 24 hours without water or clothes and yet keeps managing to avoid death.

Someone please tell me if this is possible?

As a big fan of nature and animals, I was immediately put-off at the thought of watching a film focussed around hunting but one thing that really stood out was the lack of wildlife.

The only sign of any living creature besides the two men were vultures who were flying over Ben as he stumbled through the desert.

I cannot say that I am an expert in what creatures live in the American desert but I am positive there are some.

Maybe the director was reinforcing the idea that Ben was the thing being hunted and not the hunter anymore but still a shot of a snake or some living animal would have created more realism.

With the ending drawing nearer, I was soon filled with a sigh of relief when I thought the film was over but it carried on for another ten minutes with what tried to be a shoot-out but ended with an anti-climax.

This anti-climactic finish was expected. It did not provide anything that would have made the film better towards the ending.

After completely destroying the film, I would like to finish on a positive note. There were some truly beautiful shots of the landscape and they did reinforce the idea of isolation and how far away they are from civilisation.

Plus, anyone who is remotely interested in seeing Jeremy Irving wearing nothing but his underwear then this is the film for you.


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