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Interception

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 02/15/09 07:39:19

"More like a fumble."
1 stars (Sucks)

It’s pretty darn tough to dislike the low budget actioner “Interception.” The film was made over two years as a labor of love by brothers John Will Clay and Turner Clay, whose large scale ambition has them tinkering with explosions, car chases, shootouts, and all the other standard requirements of bigger action flicks. They also bring a winking sense of humor to the proceedings, a snarky comic relief that keeps the pace of the picture moving along nicely.

It’s the sort of homemade production you want to admire. But oh, how it repeatedly fails - tremendously, spectacularly, embarrassingly - to the point where whatever admiration you want to give it is overwhelmed by the simple fact that as a movie, it’s just no good. There is no room here for the softball approach. We can forgive amateur production values, but not bad writing, and not bad acting.

At times the awfulness is almost endearing, in a “Time Chasers” sort of way; we chuckle at the story’s collapses of logic, like when our hero is outwitted by an elevator button-pushing baddie, one of the most hilariously stupid plot points I’ve ever seen in my movie-watching life. And at times the awfulness is creepy in its unexpected meanness, like when our hero uses his James Bondian wit to call the bad guy “a fag.” Thanks for being a total dick, hero guy.

The Clays wrote and directed together, and John Will Clay steps in as leading man, too, never mind a complete lack of ability. He plays Ray Mayfield, a computer programmer who’s fired when a typo in one of his program codes somehow causes a Japanese factory to explode. (It took me several sad minutes to realize that the script wasn’t trying to be funny when introducing such an idea.) On his way home, he comes across the almost-dead body of Dr. Bradford (Chris Roseland), who hid the codes for some sort of nuclear bomb from his almost-killers.

Those killers are now on Ray’s trail, and keeping him alive is FBI agent - and the dead doc’s daughter - Sarah Bradford (Ashley Morgan). Together with Ray’s smarmy pal Buck (the impossibly named Buck Rodgers, whose wiseass attitude is one of the movie’s few highlights), they track down the bomb while playing the obligatory cat-and-mouse with Sarah’s evil brother Jack (Bret Hopkins), who hopes to destroy the city and then sell a second bomb to top-bidding terrorists.

There are moments here that sort of impress; thanks to digital filmmaking tools, the Clays pull off certain visual effects that would have been impossible for such a budget a decade or two ago. But whatever goodwill such bits earn gets lost all too quickly whenever we have to suffer through terrible acting (the cast appears peppered with friends of the directors, folks to whom “kinda remembering all the lines” equates “good enough,” all speaking in gaudy southern accents) that exacerbates the terrible dialogue (the lines seem written by the sort of C-student teenager to whom “you’re an asshole” is top grade banter).

Even as a pure action flick, “Interception” doesn’t work. Consider a boat chase late in the film, and the old adage that if you show a gun early in a story, it must go off later, or else it is distractingly unnecessary. Ray finds a flare gun and a tank of gas. He tosses the gas onto the bad guys’ boat, aims the gun - then puts the gun down as the bad guys jump off the boat. Here, the Clays set up a spectacular stunt that never arrives. Why include it in the first place?

“Interception” is frustrating like that throughout, all those distractingly unnecessary moments, all those groaner clichés, all those thickheaded scenes. It’s a homemade clunker trying to pass itself off as a big league blockbuster, and while a little bit of inventiveness just might have made such an effort work, that little bit just isn’t here. You go into “Interception” wanting to give it a fair shake - and come out wishing you never did.

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