Excitement Is Just A Little "Beyond The Reach" Review

In Beyond the Reach, Jeremy Irvine (best known for playing the lead role in War Horse) stars as Ben, a young tracker who has taken on the “family business” of serving as the one-man search and rescue operation of a small town on the borders of the unforgiving Mojave Desert. Rather than join his girlfriend, Laina (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) in Denver where she is starting college on a swim team scholarship, Ben remains behind--and is soon enlisted by the local sheriff to take a brash big-game hunter named John Madec out into the desert to hunt bighorn sheep. Unfortunately for Ben, he doesn’t immediately realize how dangerous of a predator Madec truly is.

Madec is played in a delightfully menacing turn by Michael Douglas, doing what he does best--playing another variation on his infamous Wall Street villain, Gordon Gecko. A filthy-rich businessman on the verge of selling his company and becoming even richer, Madec is willing to do anything possible to ensure that the deal goes through. So, when he accidentally shoots a crazy old desert-dweller named Charlie, Madec is willing to bribe Ben to keep the matter quiet. When Ben refuses to help him cover up the crime, the ruthless Madec goes a step further--he strips Ben of his clothes and belongings and leaves him to wander around in the hot sun until he roasts to death. However, Ben has grown up in this harsh environment and spent his entire life learning how to survive in it--he is not as easy to kill as Madec anticipated.

Beyond the Reach promises viewers a primal thriller in the style of The Most Dangerous Game, but it never quite delivers--though it does give viewers the gift of hearing Douglas bellow, “Fool me once--shame on you. Fool me twice--you die!” The film is an adaptation of Robb White’s 1972 novel Deathwatch, which was previously made into a TV movie called Savages starring Andy Griffith and Sam Bottom in 1974. I can’t speak for Savages, but I can tell you that for a movie that revolves around two men chasing each other through the desert, trying to kill each other, Beyond the Reach is remarkably boring. Douglas is awesomely evil and fun to watch, especially when he engages in such campy activities as making himself a shaken martini to sip while he reclines and waits for Ben to come out of hiding. Yet there is only so long that you can watch Madec harass an increasingly crispy and sunburnt Ben before you grow weary and wonder why this supposedly experienced hunter and heartless sociopath hasn’t just shot him in the face and gotten it over with already. Instead, the action drags on and on, as though it too is sluggish from the deadly desert heat, finally culminating in a rather ludicrous conclusion that defies logic as much as Ben somehow defies death.


The Blu-ray release of Beyond the Reach includes a digital HD copy of the film, featurettes on the making of the film as well as the insane amenity-laden vehicle driven by Madec, and audio commentary with Douglas (who also serves as one of the film’s producers), producer Robert Mitas and director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti.

"Beyond the Reach" is on sale June 16, 2015 and is rated R. Thriller. Directed by Jean Baptiste Leonetti. Written by Stephen Susco. Starring Hannah Mangan Lawrence, Jeremy Irvine, Michael Douglas.

Lee Jutton • Staff Writer

Lee attended NYU for Film & TV Production, but she now works mostly in PR. Her primary obsessions in life are Doctor Who, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Arsenal F.C. When not writing about things she's watched, she's running or kickboxing in preparation for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 


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