Running parallel to the “Top Gun: Maverick” release, Netflix emerges with a slightly different take on the military in “Interceptor.” Directed by Matthew Reilly and released on June 3, the movie follows Captain Julia Joanna Collins or JJ (Elsa Pataky) in her return to the base SBX-11. SBX-11 is one of two locations to intercept a missile coming from Russia. Shortly after her arrival, missiles are taken from their Russian holdings while the other interception point is destroyed, and SBX-11 is betrayed from the inside. JJ is left almost entirely alone to secure the holding and resist Alexander Kessel’s taunts (Luke Bracey), who orchestrated the uprising. If those missiles release, JJ is America’s only hope against devastation. She faces challenge after challenge until she drags herself to the finish line at the last possible second to save America.
“Interceptor” is not a top-tier script or story but touches on unique and important themes. The Netflix-produced movie attempts to tackle gender discrimination, distaste for progression and xenophobia. It criticizes America while reinforcing values of patriotism and the importance of fighting for its future. Most interestingly, “Interceptor” attempts to tackle sexual harassment within the military. We follow many flashbacks to the harassment JJ faced from her former superior and the horrific backlash she faced after reporting his abuse towards her. Her entire career and life were devastated because she reported his actions.
Despite all of this, JJ takes great pride in being able to serve her country. She always strives to keep fighting with the encouragement of her father, a veteran. While exposing deep concerns about America, “Interceptor” still values patriotism. No matter what challenges JJ faces or what consequences may come to her loved ones, she never relents in her quest to protect. Protecting the American people and their ideals is her highest calling. When all others would have given up, JJ pushes forward.
This is obviously meant to be inspiring, and at times it is. You cannot help but watch the clock and celebrate every small victory. Yet, many of the issues brought up in the course of the movie are not handled thoroughly. Ultimately, the viewer is left feeling unresolved, even as JJ achieves what she seeks. What promises are there that the future will be any different?
This confusion stems from the lack of rhetorical response to the motivations Alexander Kessel gives for his attempts to destroy the nation. He sites issues that women and racial minorities face in the military and everyday life, which surprises JJ. The only response given is that JJ can never quit or that America is always worth defending. There are no direct arguments against his criticisms, only inspiring rallying cries, such as JJ’s memories of her father and his directives to never give up. While effective at inspiring action, there could have been more discussion on solving the issues of harassment JJ and other women faced from someone other than the villain. Instead of responding to the enemy’s arguments, JJ just repeats her commitment to the nation. The patriotic spirit in “Interceptor” is admirable but comes without any direct rhetorical response to those against America, which could have nuanced the conversation.
Outside of the unique topics covered, “Interceptor” also cleverly uses the set limitations due to production size. The setting of “Interceptor” in the small ocean base is an innovative reason for minimal set designs, and most of the movie takes place in one room and hallway, consolidating the set even further. In another story, these limited sets may have seemed stifling, but they suit the plot of “Interceptor.” This is a creative way to work around the limitations of rapidly producing films as Netflix does. While they may splurge on larger projects, utilizing limited space is critical for smaller films.
“Interceptor” attempts to tackle critical but often ignored issues of harassment in the military and does a good job raising awareness but fails to suggest solutions. It is a good start, but I hope the discussion of these themes will grow in depth in the future. Viewers should check out “Interceptor” if they want a military action story with the familiar trappings but with a slightly different spin and relevant discussions.
“Interceptor” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Ella Hachee