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‘Interceptor’ Review: Failure to Launch

‘Interceptor’ Review: Failure to Launch

The pell-mell plotting of “Interceptor” recalls the Onion parody interview with the excitable, 5-year-old screenwriter of “Fast Five.” This nuclear thriller from Matthew Reilly — the Australian author of numerous adventure novels — is clunky and barely coherent anytime there’s not a fight scene. But even the most stilted one-liner (“It’s the gig economy!”) boasts the weirdo zeal of someone having fun throwing action-movie nonsense at the screen.

The fun is not always contagious, even for someone like me who grew up reading Tom Clancy’s wonky Cold War fantasias. “Fast and Furious” franchise player Elsa Pataky plays Captain Collins, a soldier on a missile defense rig in the Pacific. Sixteen rogue Russian missiles will hurtle at American cities if Alexander (Luke Bracey), a chatty terrorist, can disable the base’s control room with his cronies. Owing to murder and poor staffing choices, Collins must fend off the intruders nearly single-handedly.

It’s a budget-conscious confined thriller with C.G.I. cutaways to missiles, a steady chatter of halfhearted rants and a big “LAUNCH” button. Pataky brings a steely determination to felling goons and shutting down Alexander (who complains about being the son of a talentless billionaire). Chris Hemsworth has a recurring bit as a shaggy Los Angeles store employee following along on TV.

But nuke control-room suspense is tougher than it sounds. Where Robert Aldrich’s 1977 classic “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” pulls out all the stops for over two hours, the standoff of “Interceptor” feels prolonged. You might not mind an apocalypse if it meant a change of scenery.

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Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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