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Beyond The Reach *1/2

Misguided Michael Douglas action pic will have you rolling your eyes

Is it worth $10? No

Want to know what’s truly beyond the reach in “Beyond The Reach”?

Logic.

The story centers on a millionaire (Michael Douglas) who likes to shoot things and the hunting guide (Jeremy Irvine) who becomes the next target. The millionaire, John, has accidentally killed a man in the middle-of-nowhere New Mexico desert, and hunting guide Ben isn’t playing along with the cover-up. Instead of killing Ben, John decides to force Ben to strip and run around the desert as temperatures reach 120 degrees. John follows him in his Mercedes SUV, all the while taking calls and trying to finalize a major business deal.



If right now you’re thinking “what the hell? That sounds stupid and makes no sense,” you’re right. It doesn’t. With so much to lose, and Ben hell bent on telling the truth, John allows Ben to run around the desert in his underwear. This premise would be more understandable if John was a psychotic whacko with little regard for human life, but he’s not. Yes he’s trigger-happy, doesn’t respect nature and is an odious jerk, but at no point does he seem crazy. And because John is played by Michael Douglas, it 100 percent feels like Gordon Gekko has gone stupid by merely toying with his prey, which basically means he becomes a villain in the old “Batman” TV show.

Remember how episodes of that series would end with the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, whoever, leaving Batman and Robin in a deadly position, then wandering off because they have something better to do than watch their arch nemesis die? That’s what John does here. To hell with having everything in his life and career dependent on not going to prison for murder, John has direct encounters with Ben and refuses to kill him for reasons that never make sense. What’s more, at any point John could simply pull up to Ben in his car, “pop a cap” in Ben’s head and it’s over with. But John doesn’t. Oddly, John also doesn’t seem to enjoy the pursuit, or the cat and mouse game Ben is forced to play. John clearly views Ben as a nuisance. Yet he refuses to kill him.

For far too long this is all that occurs. John gets close but refuses to finish the job. Naturally, when John eventually does try to kill Ben he fails miserably. Worse, he spouts terrible one-liners like “wanna blow out the candle?” as he throws dynamite nowhere near Ben. A blind girl with her dominant arm in a cast would’ve gotten the dynamite closer.

Director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, working from the novel “Deathwatch” by Robb White and script by Stephen Susco, tries to incorporate a love story with Ben’s girlfriend (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), but that subplot means little given that they break up at the start of the film. Obviously the filmmakers know the audience isn’t going to emotionally invest in a romance that just ended, right? RIGHT?

Old, craggy Michael Douglas driving around the desert stalking the poor guide who brought him out there. For 91 minutes, that’s pretty much all “Beyond The Reach” is. And it needs to be more. Much more.

Did you know?
Shot on location in New Mexico.


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