Synopsis: A high-rolling corporate shark and his impoverished young guide play the most dangerous game during a hunting trip in the Mojave Desert.
Release Date: April 17, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Michael Douglas has had an extremely interesting career. He’s worked steadily in Hollywood for almost fifty years, appearing in critical darlings like Wall Street and Traffic as well as campy classics like A Chorus Line and Romancing the Stone, without ever over-saturating theaters with his image. He keeps the trend going with his latest movie, the survival thriller Beyond the Reach.
Beyond the Reach tells the story of a young Mojave Desert guide named Ben (War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine) who is hired by a rich hunter named John Madec (Douglas) to accompany him into the desert to hunt bighorn sheep. Although Madec is an expert marksman, he has little patience and, in his haste, he accidentally shoots a prospector who he mistakes for a bighorn. While Ben goes for help, Madec shoots the man again with Ben’s gun so that he can blackmail the youngster into covering up the killing. At first, Ben agrees, but his conscience gets the best of him and he tries to sneak away from Madec. Furious about their broken deal, Madec ditches Ben in the 120 degree heat of the desert. Left with no water or hiking equipment, Ben is forced to make his way back to civilization on his own, but Madec hangs around and stalks him, making his struggle even more difficult with a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
The screenplay for Beyond the Reach was adapted by horror screenwriter Stephen Susco (The Grudge, Texas Chainsaw 3D) from a novel by Robb White (who, as a screenwriter himself, wrote many William Castle classics like The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill). Susco and White lend horror credibility to the script, but in the hands of director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti (Carré Blanc), Beyond the Reach is more than just a fright flick. It’s got the feel of a seventies exploitation flick, only stripped of its humor and camp, making it just a brutally fun survival movie.
Beyond the Reach follows a simple formula, with basically just the two characters for most of the film. Michael Douglas’ Madec is a bastard of a villain, and while Jeremy Irvine’s Ben isn’t the most likeable of heroes, just the fact that he’s the anti-Madec in the film has the audience rooting for him. It helps that Ben is the working-class stiff standing up to the rich Madec. It also helps that Madec is shooting at Ben with a high-powered rifle and hurling sticks of dynamite at him while he runs through the scorching desert with no shoes on his feet or shirt on his back. But, there is no question as to who’s wrong and who’s right in Beyond the Reach, and there’s not supposed to be. It’s an action/adventure movie, not a whodunit.
Like any good thriller, Beyond the Reach challenges the viewer to suspend his or her disbelief in places, but that’s part of the fun. What good is the climax to a man-hunting-man movie if it’s not overly drawn out and a bit improbable? If realism is what you’re looking for, there are plenty of good documentaries out right now. If you’re looking for some bullet-dodging, boulder-exploding fun, step right up – Beyond the Reach is waiting for you.
In a lot of ways, Beyond the Reach can be thought of as a modern western, and it is shot very much like one. Director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti wanted to capture the isolation and hopelessness of the situation, so he found a number of secluded locations near Shipwreck Mountain on the Navajo Nation Reservation in the New Mexico desert on which to shoot. Experienced cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Titanic, Death Warrant) gives the film a pulpy, almost grindhouse look that accentuates the vast loneliness of the landscape, making the wide open spaces feel almost claustrophobic. Through the use of wide angles as well as extreme close-ups, Carpenter is able to convey the intense feeling of the desert settings, making the viewer suffer the heat and insects along with the characters. The story of Beyond the Reach is one of survival and torment, and the well-crafted photography of Russell Carpenter puts the audience right in the middle of it.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
- Producer(s): Michael DouglasRobert Mitas
- Screenwriter(s): Stephen Susco
- Story: Robb White
- Cast: Michael DouglasJeremy IrvineRonny Cox Martin Palmer
- Editor(s): Adam Wolfe
- Cinematographer: Russell Carpenter
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Lahly Poore
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA