The United States of America is under attack. Russian nukes are about to annihilate 16 American cities. One of the two interceptors (surface-to-air missiles that can shoot down nukes) is down. The bad guys have taken over the other. In just a few minutes, as you can imagine, it’s going to be doomsday for the USA. The setup isn’t exactly novel, but genre-specific films are seldom about the novelty of the setup. It’s all about the action, and it helps that the gender of the protagonist is a refreshing change from films that tap into the ‘alpha male’ space.
Captain JJ Collins (Elsa Pataky) is a decorated soldier who finds herself at the last line of defence against a bunch of twisted patriots. She also has an inner battle of her own, given that a sexual harassment claim against a superior makes her life rather miserable. Interceptor is not just about saving America, but also Collins proving a point to the army that their allegiance should lie on the side of justice and not perceived respect to the ‘code’.
It is to Pataky’s credit that she sells her scenes with the experience of a veteran. She delivers inane but supremely confident dialogues that are hard to ignore. She also gets a redemptive arc that allows her to face her inner demons in a system that is designed to work against her. There are lines that speak of true patriotism and misguided ideologies. The film also addresses the misogyny and patriarchy in the armed forces, and how the department needs a thorough cleansing to ensure a safe working atmosphere for enlisted people, regardless of gender.
The film is ultimately all about Pataky’s Collins, and credit to her for keeping us invested. However, despite the stakes being as high as they are, this race-against-time thriller never thrills. Yes, we have a bunch of supporting characters, who get decent character arcs, but then, they get dispensed before we can even begin to empathise with them. And yet, if you are in the mood for a reasonably competent rehash of 'Die Hard', this film might be it. I wish though that the inventiness seen in the premise had been extended to other portions in this film.