Beyond the Reach

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Beyond the Reach Movie Poster Image
Nonsensical cat-and-mouse thriller has violence, language.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 91 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Violence and vengeance have no real consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are the opposite of admirable; their decisions and actions rarely make any sense. One character is a skilled guide with knowledge of the desert, but he only survives based on his knowledge of where a friend hid certain supplies.

Violence

A man is shot and killed, with bloody wounds. Blood stains. Characters stalk each other. Guns fired. Slingshot to the head. Flashback to a family of four being killed by the blistering sun. Dynamite. Wounded, bleeding feet. Sunburn.

Sex

The main character is in his underwear for large portions of the movie. Bare male chest. Flashbacks to intimate, cuddly moments with a girlfriend. Bathing in one scene. No nudity.

Language

Several uses of "s--t," "son of a bitch," and "goddamn," plus one or two uses of "God" or "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations).

Consumerism

A very expensive Mercedes SUV, equipped with just about everything. Mercedes logo shown more than once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Bad guy swigs from a bottle (whisky?) and drinks a martini.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beyond the Reach is a cat-and-mouse thriller set in the Mojave Desert that stars Michael Douglas. It includes guns, shooting, and a dead body with bloody wounds. A character runs around in his underwear and becomes horribly sunburned, as well as having painfully wounded feet. In flashback, a family is shown dying from the desert heat. Flashbacks show the hero being intimate with his girlfriend; they appear to be naked, but no sensitive body parts are shown. Language includes sporadic uses of "s--t," "son of a bitch," and "goddamn." The bad guy sips from a bottle of what looks like whisky and drinks a martini.

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What's the story?

Ben (Jeremy Irvine), a skilled tracker and guide in the Mojave desert, has a crisis of conscience when his girlfriend (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) leaves for college. His distraught mood is interrupted by a job: taking a wealthy slimeball, John Madec (Michael Douglas), hunting in a dangerous part of the desert known as "The Reach." Driving Madec's $500,000 Mercedes SUV, which is packed with weapons, water, and food, they begin the hunt. It's not long before Madec accidentally shoots a man. He offers Ben a huge bribe to keep quiet, but when Ben balks, Madec forces the young man to strip to his underwear and run around the desert, assuming he'll die of exposure. But it turns out that Ben is quite difficult to kill.

Is it any good?

This movie is lost and confused. BEYOND THE REACH is based on a 1972 novel by Robb White, an author who collaborated on cheesy horror movies from legendary schlockmeister William Castle (13 Ghosts). If only this movie could have taken itself less seriously. Instead, its baffling plot turns and character motivations are presented in a straightforward, dead-eyed manner. Not much actually makes sense, and even striking sets -- like a secret cave populated by a spinning mannequin -- just seem more confusing than surprising.

The actors are unable to convey any real emotions or logic behind their actions, but if the images of Douglas watching Irvine running around in his undies are nonsensical, they're nothing compared to the awkward and downright dumb opening and closing scenes. All this is head-scratching when you consider that Douglas was an active producer on the movie -- and once won an Oscar for doing the same job.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Beyond the Reach's violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? Is it meant to shock or to thrill? How does it compare to other thrillers and action movies you've seen?

  • How does the movie make you feel about rich people, as opposed to "regular" people? Do you think that's intentional?

  • Why do you think Michael Douglas' character drinks in this movie? Does he enjoy it? Does he make it look appealing?

  • What's the appeal of movies in which characters stalk and terrorize each other?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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