Beyond the Reach

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday June 17, 2015

"Beyond the Reach" should be a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat piece of pulp fiction, much like the young adult novel that it was based on, "Deathwatch" by Robb White. But an inept screenplay contributes to an idiotic and tedious adaptation, starring the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6.

Michael Douglas plays John Madec, a narcissistic big game hunter and corporate shark who is obviously insane and -- if he's telling the truth -- clearly not functioning within the same legal boundaries the rest of us. (He claims that he's hunted "rhino and elephant.") His latest goal is to secure the rack of a bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert, while (by phone) he negotiates the sale of his multi-million dollar company. To that end, he seeks the assistance of an earnest young guide, Ben (Jeremy Irvine).

Ben becomes entangled in this man's illegal blood sport when he agrees to act as a tracker for the man, off-season and without a permit. When the cocky, quick-triggered Madec accidentally shoots a reclusive wanderer instead of a buck, he tries to cover it up by implicating Ben. At that point, the guide attempts to take the moral high road.

But Madec has a plan of his own: To strip the only witness to his crime nearly naked and expose him to the elements. Comfortably perched in his Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6, Madec watches as the brutal sun slowly kills his prey.

Perhaps some of the ludicrous cover-ups and poor plotting in this story would have been more viable in 1972, when the novel was published. After all, at that time we could really believe these men were in the middle of nowhere. But Madec keeps himself on the grid at all times, and makes no attempts to hide evidence. In a particularly farcical scene, Madec lights sticks of dynamite and tosses them at Ben -- because getting caught accidentally shooting someone would be bad for business.

Where the book ends, as you would expect it to, in a trial and conviction, the ending of this movie is so preposterous you'll wonder why they decided to dumb it down for adults.

Beyond some beautiful desert photography of the Upper Basin in New Mexico, there is very little to see here. The thrills are non-existent, and the cat-and-mouse action is about as tense as a "Roadrunner" cartoon.

An audio commentary with Michael Douglas, producer Robert Mitas and director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti attempts to justify the film, while the featurette "The Making of 'Beyond the Reach'" spends half its time discussing filmmaking and the other half giving a detailed plot summary. The most astounding special feature is "Six Wheeling: Inside and Outside the Ultimate Ride," a blatant advertisement that takes product positioning to a whole new level, spending almost as much time talking about the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 as the first featurette does discussing the entire film.


"Beyond the Reach"
Blu-ray
Rated: R / 96 minutes
www lionsgateshop.com

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