Interceptor Force (1999)

a.k.a Interceptors (USA) Last Line of Defence (UK)

Olivier Gruner and Brad Dourif star in this underwritten thriller from director Phillip J. Roth. Prism Leisure UK R0 DVD.

The Film

A group of jet fighters attempts to intercept a detected aerial intruder, one of them manages to destroy the strange craft with a nuclear tipped missile and an escape pod is detected which crashes to earth in northern Mexico. A small team is sent in lead by Shaun (Oliver Gruner) having been told they are looking for a crashed jet, they are accompanied by two assistants who seem to know more about what is happening they are letting on. The plan goes awry when they are attacked by an invisible alien - Shaun and his team only have a few hours to find and destroy the creature before a nuclear containment is implemented...

Written and directed by Phillip J. Roth for his UFO (Unified Film Organization) company, Interceptor Force takes a Predator-like alien, adds in some identity stealing from The Thing (1982), air combat from Independence Day (1996) along with the excessive sunglass wear from Men in Black (1997) and then does nothing much with the mix. The storyline is an incredibly basic affair, after the typical 'previous job' action scene to start, it quickly puts the characters into a budget friendly sterotypical small Mexican town with a few handy extras to kill off, gives us a couple of fights and nothing else. The storyline is rife with contrivences - one of the characters has a Star Trek tricorder-like device that provides very precise details on all sorts of convenient things and a gun conveniently exists that will kill this thing, yet so few people know about it, they have to hire in a hit team without telling them what they are actually going up against rather than actually having a trained team, trained in the gun that 'they' have obviously developed.

The alien itself is poorly defined, its reason for going around killing seems to have no purpose and like many filmic villains it seems to bi-polarly switch between teasing the hunters, trying to kill them, or just conveniently disappearing for a while. A strange attempt is made to connect the 'previous job' to this current event, although it is handled with a throw-away line when there seems to be a lot more storyline potential there. The result is a rather messy storyline with too many plot holes for even a casual fan to ignore, the pacing is pretty lacklustre and although there are some action scenes, there has been no characterisation and so there is no tension here, the ending is completely daft but seems appropriate for what has come before. To make things stranger the script seems uncertain whether or not to try and be comedic - while the film as a whole is played straight, during a bar fight an inexplicable oriental martial-arts fighter comes flying across the screen, each time missing the heroes and crashing into the background in what can only be assumed to be an attempt at comedy although it just seems completely out of place - a comedic scene right at the end also feels rather odd, although given how daft the ending is, it cannot really ruin it.

Director Phillip J. Roth is a low budget veteran and able to handle the film in a decent if unexciting fashion. As typical of DTV action films of the late 1990s, the camerawork is pretty static (the film pre-dates the shaky-cam and rapid-fire editing of the 2000s) and the locations do at least look fitting for the setting. Special effects are not bad for a low budget production, the 'creature' is all-CGI but only on-screen relatively briefly and it does have a commendably original look about it, the explosive effects in a couple of action scenes are well handled. Even the air combat scenes look pretty good, even if the film does perpetuate the frequent cinematic mistake of using the "Stealth Fighter" F-117 as an actual fighter place when it was designed as a ground attack aircraft.

Oliver Gruner was always much better at the action than the acting and getting to play another tough faced pseudo-military man here is good casting, never requiring any particular emotion. He certainly excels in the action scenes though, the highlight being a multiple-opponent fight during the opening with his trademark high kicks in full display, although he only get a few martial arts moments in the rest of the film. His team consists of William Zabka (of Karate Kid (1984) fame) and Glenn Plummer (most recognisable from Show Girls (1995)) who both look good in their parts, although Zabka in particular really doesn't get much to do. Back at base the perpetual DTV character actors Brad Dourif and Ernie Hudson play military officials with some good authority.

An early Sci-Fi Channel original movie, Interceptor Force is pretty typical straight-to-video fare - a low budget knock-off of a variety of popular genre films with a C-grade action star in the lead role. With some more detail to the storyline it could have been a lot more enjoyable - as it is, the film is not bad enough to fall into the "so bad its fun" category but not good enough to generally recommend. At least Oliver Gruner fans should enjoy this as he gets the vast majority of the screentime.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Olivier Gruner - French action star who also appeared in Old West actioner Savate (1995)
Brad Dourif - a veteran character actor who starred in Werner Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
Directed by anyone interesting? Phillip J. Roth - an American TV and DTV movie veteran who also helmed the sequel Interceptor Force 2 (2002) as well as Dean Cain thrillers New Alcatraz (2001) and Dragon Fighter (2003)
Any gore or violence ? Some blood, no gore.
Any sex or nudity? A brief topless shot.
Who is it for? Fans of low budget action films should enjoy this and a good one for Olivier Gruner fans.

Visuals Original aspect ratio - 1.33:1 academy. Colour
Picture quality is fine, good colours and details.
Shot for television premiere so the academy ratio is correct.
Audio English mono - no problems.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Trailer
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability Available on its own or in various multi-pack incarnations..
Other regions? Available in the US from York on DVD.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Titles and credits are in English. The UK release title is clearly added in, in a completely different style to the rest of the title sequence.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 8th December 2014.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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