When the status and money obsessed Madec (Michael Douglas) rolls into town looking for a guide through the desert, Ben (Jeremy Irvine) is enlisted to help him. It is not long before the trip turns to disaster, however, and Ben finds himself pursued through the unforgiving landscape, and fighting for his life.
Based on the novel Deathwatch by Robb White, Beyond the Reach is a remake of the 1974 ABC Movie of the Week, Savages. The story is designed, presumably, to be a tense game of cat and mouse between a man who believes he can buy anything he wants, and a young guide whose moral compass is strong and true. The trouble is that Beyond the Reach is so full of cliché and one dimensional characters, that it becomes an unwitting parody of the B-Movie style.
Neither Michael Douglas nor Jeremy Irvine are given the chance to make their character anything other than superficial. It is fairly clear that Douglas is enjoying playing this unscrupulous and violent man, but in all his enjoyment, it seems he forgot to make the character anything other than the spouter of terrible one-liners. The audience finds themselves rooting for Jeremy Irvine’s one dimensional ‘good guy’, but mainly because he has much less terrible dialogue than Douglas, and doesn’t spend his time making espressos in the desert.
Stephen Susco’s screenplay is so wonderfully terrible, it is to be marvelled at. Not only does the screenplay call for Michael Douglas to do a terrible Wall-E impression that seems to go on for hours, it is full of foreshadowing, cliché, and lines such as ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I KILL YOU!’. As well as this, there is a cave of messed up treasures for no apparent reason other than plot, and the forced feeling that Madec may have orchestrated the whole affair just so he could get his hunting thrills. The final moments of the film are laughable and almost inexplicable, so anyone looking for a resolution on screen that makes any sort of sense is going to be sorely disappointed.
Director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti seems to have watched the ill-advised Anthony Hopkins film Bad Company before making Beyond the Reach, and turns the film from what could have been a game of cat-and-mouse to one where Michael Douglas’ character follows Jeremy Irvine’s character around and waits for him to die. The film is badly paced, with everything coming to a head much too soon, and the rest of the film spent wandering around the desert with Douglas spouting inane and coverused quotations in Irvine’s general direction. The cinematography by Russell Carpenter is surprisingly beautiful however, so when the action gets increasingly silly, at least it is pretty.
In all, Beyond the Reach is so cliché, badly written, unevenly paced and obvious that it would be a disservice to describe the film as a B-Movie. C-Movie, perhaps!?