Why Was ‘Interceptor’ the No. 1 Movie on Netflix? ‘I’m Just as Confused as Everyone Else,’ Says Director Matthew Reilly


First time director Matthew Reilly admits he never anticipated his feature film debut “Interceptor” to do as well as it has since its release on Netflix earlier this month. The movie, which follows a US Army captain (Elsa Pataky) who must prevent a nuclear missile attack forged by domestic terrorists in cahoots with Russians, climbed to No. 1 on the streamer’s top 10 list with about 50 million hours viewed.

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“It’s blown me away,” Reilly told me on Friday morning when I caught up with over Zoom. “I was hoping to sneak into the top 10 on Netflix, but coming in at number one everywhere?”

“I don’t think anybody was expecting it to take the world by storm,” he continued before laughing. “I’m just as confused as everybody else.”

Produced by Pataky’s husband Chris HemsworthReilly co-wrote the screenplay with Stuart Beattie (“Obi-Wan Kenobi”).

“Interceptor” takes place in one location — a floating military base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, equipped with a defense system that has the ability to intercept nuclear missiles. The film touches on a variety of hot button issues, including #MeToo (Pataky’s character’s military career is stalled when a five-star general is discharged after she accuses him of sexual misconduct), Russian aggression, xenophobia and right wing conspiracy theories. The dialogue is peppered with unforgettable one-liners, including a soldier (Meyen Mehta) quipping to the bad guy (Luke Bracey), “I’ve seen you in the shower. I could see why you’re obsessed with missiles.”

Another doozie has a Bracey henchman (Aaron Glenane) justifying his acts of terrorism by proclaiming, “I’m not a murderer, I’m a fucking patriot.”

The copious bloodshed varies from Pataky fatally stabbing an attacker in his eye with a gun to another baddie being beheaded by barbwire.

“I’m very aware of what the movie is,” says Reilly, 47, who was born and raised in Australia before moving to Los Angeles a few years ago.

Yes, he’s read some of the brutal critiques of the movie on social media. “If you don’t like my movie, say you don’t like my movie. I don’t mind that,” Reilly says. “But somewhere in recent years we got to this extreme bottom end and people who say, ‘I don’t like your movie therefore I hate you therefore you should die a painful miserable death and never make movies again.’”

He’s not letting the hate get to him. So much so that he’s already written an “Interceptor” sequel. “Netflix likes it,” Reilly says.

Luke Bracey and Elsa Pataky in 'Interceptor.'  - Credit: Brook Rushton/Netflix

Luke Bracey and Elsa Pataky in ‘Interceptor.’ – Credit: Brook Rushton/Netflix

Brook Rushton/Netflix

Before landing in the director’s chair, Reilly was a best-selling novelist of action thriller fiction.

“I’ve been writing bonkers fast paced action novels for 25 years,” Reilly explains. “It’s very well known that I’ve sold them all to studios in Hollywood but they’re too big. They’re $120 million to $150 million movies. I’ve always wanted to direct, so ‘Interceptor’ was designed to be filmed on the cheap in a single location. But what I would do is give it that energy, that enthusiasm, that bonkers gonzo pace.”

Reilly said Netflix has forbid him from revealing his budget. “If they let me do the sequel, then I’ll do my ‘T2’ or then I’ll do my ‘Road Warrior,’” he said, referring to the ‘Terminator’ and ‘Mad Max’ sequels.

Hemsworth makes a cameo in the film as a stoner employee of an electronics store. “Netflix said they wanted to work with Elsa and Chris said he’d be involved as an EP,” Reilly says. “Naturally somebody at Netflix goes, ‘Hey, Chris, you might want to be in the movie.’ I got Chris straight off the ‘Thor’ set. I got to direct him for two hours. He doesn’t mess around. He’s laser-focused.”

Does Hemsworth’s character make an appearance in the sequel?

“I don’t want to speak for him but I reckon ‘Interceptor’ was a one-and-done,” Reilly says, “But let’s just say the sequel is about 10 times bigger. If he wants to be in it, I’m pretty sure we can fit him in somewhere.”

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