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article imageReview: ‘Beyond the Reach’ is grasping for solid ground

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 17, 2015 in Entertainment
Hunting and surviving become interchangeable in the thriller, ‘Beyond the Reach,’ when two men become cornered animals in the middle of nowhere.
There was a time when hunting wild game was a necessity of survival. Before grocery stores and butcher shops, people were required to kill animals in order to put food on the table. However, it’s since become an activity performed primarily for sport and amusement. Certain personalities are more inclined to find such a hobby entertaining; but there is also a certain category of these people you would not want to cross. In Beyond the Reach, a fatal mistake turns the hunter into the prey.
Growing up in a small town, there aren’t a lot of career options. Ben (Jeremy Irvine) inherited the role of guide from his parents, unofficially earning the title of best tracker in the county if not state. The day his girlfriend leaves for college, he receives a phone call from the local sheriff requesting his services. A man with money to burn has obtained an off-season permit to hunt in the nearby valley. Madec (Michael Douglas) arrived in a modified pickup equipped with all the provisions of a mobile home, as well as an imported, high-power rifle. His enthusiasm matches the flash, but his impatience results in an irreversible accident. Determined to save his reputation by preventing the ever-honest Ben from reporting the incident, Madec turns his gun on the young man and sends him out into the cruel landscape without any supplies. But Ben knows the area like the back of his hand and is determined to live another day.
The first act is the dullest. The film opens on Ben and his girlfriend exchanging parting gifts and goodbyes. Then he meets up with the sheriff and Madec, where it’s obvious something shady has transpired. When they hit the road, Ben and Madec engage in the most uncomfortable get-to-know-you session. The young guide clearly resents Madec’s wealth and privilege, while the hunter couldn’t care less because he always gets what he wants. Things start to pick up after the incident, though it still runs into some lulls on the way to the finish line.
Ben’s resilience is as impressive as Madec’s underestimation of him. If the latter was as smart as he claims, he’d have realized exposure would be a long and difficult mode of eradicating the outdoorsman. Obviously Ben is familiar with the territory, and would know the hiding spots and locations of possible provisions. But Madec’s miscalculation is what turns his misfortune into a movie. Ben is very resourceful and strong-minded, though the last 15 minutes of the picture becomes a bit rambling and disjointed.
Douglas relishes playing the villain, shouting threats across the barren land. Madec could be Gordon Gecko if he’d stayed on top this long. Irvine is perfectly suited for running around half-naked for a large chunk of the movie. He’s somewhat stiff in the early, character-establishing scenes, but appears much more comfortable performing the more physically demanding aspects of the role.
Director: Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
Starring: Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine and Martin Palmer
More about Beyond the Reach, Michael douglas, jeremy irvine, Jean Baptiste Leonetti, Thriller
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