Beyond the Reach (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (28th June 2015).
The Film

On the same morning his girlfriend Laina (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) leaves for college out of state, New Mexico sheriff's deputy/Search & Rescue tracker Ben (Jeremy Irvine) gets an offer through his sheriff (Ronny Cox) to take a hunter deep into the Mojave desert to hunt bighorn sheep out a season. The hunter turns out to be arrogant and condescending corporate bigwig Jack Madec (Michael Douglas) who carries an arsenal of flashy imported weaponry in his five-hundred thousand dollar Mercedes 6X6 which is outfitted with oven, fridge, freezer, espresso maker, and satellite phone. From the start of their journey off the map, Madec sets out to establish his dominance, resorting to needling Ben about the insecurities underlying what little he has revealed about Laina; but it is Madec's general disregard for his advice and disdain for his prey ("They're already frightened. That's why they're being hunted") as well as his "everyone has a price" attitude that rankles. When Madec fires at a silhouette against the horizon and it turns out to be hermit Charlie (Martin Palmer), he at first seems truly remorseful until Ben starts planning to transport the body back to town. Fearing what the incident will do to his reputation just as he is closing a deal to send jobs to China, Madec makes Ben an offer of a full-ride scholarship for him to Laina's school followed up by a six-figure starting salary at his company. Ben at first accepts the deal, but only as a means of mollifying Madec until they get to town. Madec soon realizes this and forces Ben at gunpoint to strip to his boxers in the one-hundred-and-thirty-degree heat, contriving in his mind the story of how Ben, depressed and angry about his girlfriend going off to college, accidentally shot Charlie and then turned on Madec who was able to get to his truck and get away while Ben died of exposure. From the comfort of his truck, Madec watches Ben wander aimlessly under the desert sun; however, he soon realizes that he has underestimated Ben's intelligence, drive to survive, and knowledge of the environment (along with strategically-placed resources courtesy of old Charlie).

Based on the 1962 young adult novel "Deathwatch" by William Castle's regular screenwriter Robb White, which was previously adapted as the 1974 made-for-TV movie Savages with Andy Griffith and Sam Bottoms, Beyond the Reach is a gorgeous-looking, technically-slick film with New Mexico deserts striking photographed by James Cameron-regular Russell Carpenter that is hard to take seriously as a thriller. While Irvine turns in an earnest performance, he has as much to work with in terms of characterization as a scenery-chewing Douglas (who also produced) as a yuppie so sociopathic that anyone serving as his tracker would almost have to expect to wind up being hunted for sport. While that does not happen in this scenario, his almost Bond-ian villain sipping martinis, listens to classical music, conducting business over his satellite phone while tracking his prey, as well as his sing-song taunts via Smartphone megaphone (although his earlier WALL-E-impression hinted at a more quirky characterization). The preposterous, plot hole-gaping resolution is then followed up by a slasher film-esque it's-only-a-dream-but-wait-no-it's-not capper when things really should have ended in the desert. Despite the prominent product placement, the film does not make a really good advert for the Mercedes G63 6X6 also featured this year in Jurassic World, unless the target consumer is rich assholes. If you're really in the need for Michael Douglas in the wild, then pick up The Ghost and the Darkness.
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Video

LionsGate's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC widescreen presentation delivers a stunning picture of sun-drenched desert vistas, sun-burnt skin, and cool blue night scenes. In a move that seems calculated to infuriate those who purchased the Blu-ray because of their preference for physical media, the disc contains only the film's 91 minute R-rated version while the unrated version is only available as an HD digital download. Presumably the unrated version may pop up on disc in other territories (although the version Artificial Eye has submitted in the UK received a 12A rating with a 91 minute running time).
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Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is as stunning as the video with directional effects roaring across the screen (mostly when it comes to the Mercedes) and gunshots blasting in the front channels and reverberating into the surrounds. A Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also included, as are optional English, English SDH, and Spanish.
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Extras

Extras kick off with a audio commentary by director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, actor/producer Michael Douglas and producer Robert Mitas. Douglas starts off describing the source novel (also that co-production company "Liberal Media" is the rights owner of the novel and others by White), and Mitas points out differences between the novel and the film throughout. A thick-accented Leonetti discusses the considerable contribution of cinematographer Carpenter to the look of the film (starting in pre-production) - as well as pointing out "commercial shots" - and the Mercedes 6X6 gets more than a few mentions (Douglas points out that it is the current choice among Saudi Arabians for hunting). Douglas is quite enthusiastic (and concedes the influence of other corporate sharks he has played on his performance here), knowledgeable about the various aspects of the production (as he should be since he produced it), fills in the quiet spots and function somewhat as a moderator by prompting the director and producer. While it did not necessarily make me want to watch the film with original audio again so soon, the track did enhance my appreciation of the collective efforts and intentions of the resulting film.
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In "The Making of BEYOND THE REACH" (12:02), Douglas, Irvine, director Leonetti, and producer Mitas discuss the origin of the project (Mitas first proposed adapting the book to Douglas a few years ago). Leonetti discusses the visual possibilities the script offered while Douglas discusses how the director's love of the Western genre gave the film its look and feel. Baptiste describes Douglas' character as a "nasty kid with a big gun" while Douglas interprets his character in terms of his contrasts with that of Irvine's. "Six Wheeling: Inside and Outside the Ultimate Ride" (10:26) is a lengthy advertisement for the "sexy" Mercedes luxury 6x6 vehicle, advertised by the filmmakers as the "third star" of the film. In the novel, the two characters took Ben's jeep, but the screenwriters felt Madec's character should exude wealth. Douglas saw a streaming advertisement of the Mercedes and approached the company about using it in the film. The vehicle is not available in the United States because it does not fit American standards and regulations. They concede that the vehicle is a "toy" and reveal that all of the luxuries it provides in the film are indeed part of the vehicle (which is intended to be an extension of Madec's character).

Overall

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