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Beyond The Reach (Michael Douglas) - DVD Review

Beyond The Reach

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AS silly as its premise undoubtedly is, Jean-Baptiste Leonetti’s survival thriller Beyond The Reach entertains by virtue of its clever cat-and-mouse elements and a supremely enjoyable – and rare – villainous role by Michael Douglas.

Inspired by ’70s genre entries such as Duel and Deliverance, and with a smattering of The Hitcher, Beyond The Reach is also based on the book Deathwatch, by Robb White.

The story finds young guide Ben (played by Britain’s Jeremy Irvine) being commissioned by ruthless corporate shark Madec (Douglas) to take him on a hunting trip in the Mojave Desert, only to find things going bad very quickly.

For when the latter accidentally shoots and kills a desert dweller, he then turns his aim on Ben, who must use all of his knowledge and guile to survive the unforgiving terrain and Madec’s relentless pursuit.

For long periods, Leonetti’s film places a semi-clad Irvine alone against the harsh desert elements as Douglas watches on, determined to allow nature to take its course. And while this can become repetitive, it also intrigues in the ways that it consistently wrong-foots viewers into guessing who has the upper hand – the millionaire with the big guns and espresso making coffee machine, or the boy with the environmental knowledge to fall back on.

In this regard, both Douglas and Irvine excel. The former is on scenery chewing form, revelling in a role that leaves room for a little pantomime while tipping its hat to the corporate money men responsible for so many of the world’s current ills. If Gordon Gekko had ever gone on a hunting trip, then this may well have been the outcome.

Irvine, meanwhile, displays physical prowess and a keen survival instinct that means he remains a constant thorn in Madec’s side.

Leonetti also deserves credit for subverting expectation at several points during the chase, while making maximum use of the inhospitable environment in which the film is set. You may well feel uncomfortable watching the action unfold.

It’s just a shame that he can’t quite sustain the film’s momentum throughout a somewhat more standard third act, in which a lot of tried and tested Hollywood troupes come into play and even threaten to undermine what has gone before. The last few scenes, in particular, smack of disappointment.

Up until that point, Beyond The Reach does an admirable job of keeping you entertained, even gripped. Just be prepared for the underwhelming finish.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 106mins
UK DVD Release: October 12, 2015