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This new Netflix movie just rocketed to No. 1 — critics be damned

Mayen Mehta as Shah and Elsa Pataky as JJ Collins in INTERCEPTOR
(Image credit: Brook Rushton/Netflix)

The No. 1 Netflix movie spot is an interesting position to be in. Sometimes, the films that take hold at the top of Netflix's list aren't exactly loved (or even liked) by critics. Remember when the top Netflix movie had a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes?

And such is the case this week when we see an action movie titled Interceptor at the top of the pack (right in front of Amazing Spider-Man and Mission: Impossible 4). Yes,  Interceptor is beating established movie series on the Netflix charts, and it's doing so without much critical approval.

Interceptor has a 44% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics, but that's not the surprising thing to note here. (having seen the trailer, I kinda knew reviewers weren't going to like this movie.) Instead, I'll point to how the Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score is even lower: 27%. Contrast that to Netflix's new Adam Sandler movie Hustle, which is at 88% and an even higher audience score.

So, let's explore the two elements at play here: what do people hate about this movie, and how is Interceptor so popular in spite of that dissent? A bit of a spoiler warning up front: Interceptor is definitely not going on our best movies on Netflix list.

What is Interceptor?

This won't take long. Interceptor is a very by-the-books military action movie. You've got a rough and experienced hero — Captain JJ Collins (played by Elsa Pataky) — who was screwed out of her dream job and is now faced with insurmountable odds thanks to betrayal.

Interceptor finds Collins in the middle of nowhere, or rather the middle of the Pacific Ocean, manning a base that is the last line of defense from an attack that endangers the world. And it's all because former US military intelligence officer Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey) is such a smug and villainous human being.

You can watch Interceptor's trailer here to get a visualization of that plot:

What do critics think of Interceptor?

My favorite line from a critic ripping Interceptor a new one comes from Newsday (opens in new tab)'s Robert Levin, who writes "Please, please do not waste your time." Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post (opens in new tab) goes even harder, writing that even if you don't expect "a gripping plot, fleshed-out characters and a decent twist ... you’ll also be disappointed with the action sequences."

Oleksinski even compared it to a show I thought we all forgot about calling Interceptor "a JAG episode from hell that dares to be both about the imminent annihilation of every American city by 16 stolen Russian nuclear missiles … and #MeToo. What a mix!"

Elsa Pataky as JJ Collins in INTERCEPTOR

(Image credit: Brook Rushton/Netflix)

Not all critics hated Interceptor, though. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab) damned it with faint praise, writing "It’s fine. It gets the job done ... but Chuck Norris would have had more fun with it." He also notes that Interceptor is "a movie that the characters from The Expendables might sit around watching, and there’s something admirable about the no-nonsense hoo-rah of it all."

He also manages to get a dig in while praising Interceptor, noting "the fight choreography is flat, especially in the climax — but this is the kind of summer escapism that people often seek as the weather gets warmer across the United States."

What do viewers think of Interceptor?

We don't typically dive into the comments section, but Chris L wrote one of my favorite user reviews for Interceptor (opens in new tab) on Rotten Tomatoes, noting "Words literally fail me. It was as best utter dog poop. Unless my old brain was missing something and it's a pastiche of the Die Hard Genre, its 1 hour and 38 mins of my remaining 25 years never to be seen again, I want to know how much fuel the 'seal team' choppers had because they were constantly flying backwards.....!"

Fred S slammed Interceptor with fewer words, noting "What I'd expect if a 7th grader were given a $10m budget, but I'm afraid I'd be insulting some 7th graders."

Not all viewers hated it, as Hal E's five-star review declared "The protagonist is believable, she kicks ass and has that 'never give up' attitude, the bad guys are effectively bad/psycho/crazy as they usually are, and the effects are great. Is it going to win an Oscar? Nope. Is it a fun way to spend an evening with a bowl of popcorn? You betcha!"

Outlook: Streamer beware

Your enjoyment of Interceptor may depend on how much you're able to turn off your brain's propensity for critical thinking. It's a little difficult to believe that this is the most popular movie on Netflix in the U.S. right now, but that feels like a referendum on how things don't make any sense anymore.

We're not going to watch Interceptor, but we're certainly not going to judge anyone who does. 

Next: In other TV news, did you catch the Ms. Marvel post-credits scene? Because we've got all the details. Also, once you've watched the new episode, check out why Obi-Wan Kenobi episode 4 fixed one of our biggest problems with the show.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.