Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Ronny Cox, Patricia Bethune, Martin Palmer
Written by: Stephen Susco, based on a novel by Robb White
Directed by: Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Running Time: 95
Date: 04/17/2015

Beyond the Reach (2015)

1 Star (out of 4)

Sand Goons

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Beyond the Reach is based on a 1972 novel by Robb White, an author who collaborated on cheesy horror movies by the legendary schlockmeister William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, and Homicidal). If only this new movie could have likewise taken itself less seriously. Instead, it's lost and confused, with its baffling plot turns and character motivations presented in a straightforward, dead-eyed manner. Not much actually makes sense, and even striking sets like a secret cave, populated by a spinning mannequin, just seems more confusing than surprising.

Ben (Jeremy Irvine), a skilled tracker and guide in the Mojave desert, has a crisis of conscience when his girlfriend (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) leaves for college. His distraught mood is interrupted by a job, taking a wealthy slimeball, John Madec (Michael Douglas), hunting in a dangerous part of the desert known as "The Reach." Driving his $500,000 Mercedes SUV, packed with weapons, water, and food, they begin the hunt. It's not long before Madec accidentally shoots a man. He offers Ben a huge bribe to keep quiet, but when Ben balks, Madec forces the young man to strip to his underwear and run around the desert until he dies of exposure. But it turns out that Ben is quite difficult to kill.

The actors are unable to convey any real emotions or logic behind their actions, but if the images of Michael Douglas watching Jeremy Irvine running around in his undies are nonsensical, they're nothing compared to the awkward, and downright dumb, opening and closing scenes. All this is head-scratching when you consider that Douglas was an active producer on the movie — and once won an Oscar for doing the same job.

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