The new action movie, Interceptor, topped Netflix’s global rankings and became the most watched movie on the platform at the moment.
co-produced by marvel movie star Chris Hemsworth, the film follows a stubborn army officer (played by Thor the actor’s real-life wife, Elsa Pataky), who finds herself positioned as the last line of defense against a soldier-turned-criminal’s villainous plan to take over a remote nuclear missile base.
This might sound like a painted-by-numbers synopsis, but Interceptor’s seemingly unoriginal premise didn’t hold audiences back – the film has logged over 35 million viewing hours since its May 26 release, which is more than double the number value accumulated by the film. Netflix’s second most popular film, A Perfect Pairing, during the same period.
The data are from Netflix itself, which published weekly performance numbers (opens in new tab) for its movies and series since November 2021. Ranking titles based on weekly viewing hours – that is, the total number of hours that subscribers worldwide watched each title between Monday and Sunday of the previous week – the streamer regularly shares four separate lists; two for movies (English and non-English) and two for TV shows (English and non-English).
Despite its strong numerical showing, Interceptor did not fare well with critics or the public after the airing. The film currently boasts a 44% rating from critics on the review aggregator website. rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab) – making it certified rotten based on 32 official reviews – and an even more terrible viewership score of 25%.
“It’s Die Hard in the Pacific Ocean with just about every action movie cliché you can imagine,” wrote Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy in his book two star rating (opens in new tab) of the movie, while news.com’s (opens in new tab) Wenlei Ma called Interceptor “a terrible, horrible, not good, very bad movie”. There.
Reception wasn’t all bad, mind you. Film school rejects (opens in new tab) Aurora Amidon, for example, said that “there are some parts of The Interceptor that are fun to watch, and those looking for quick, harmless action can do a lot worse.” similarly, The Guardians (opens in new tab) Benjamin Lee chose “brief nuggets of substance” from the 90-minute film.
Analysis: An Emerging Netflix Trend
From the sounds of things, then, Interceptor isn’t going to win any Oscars next year – but its success supports an interesting trend at Netflix of late.
Weird stuff and bridgerton notwithstanding, many of the streamer’s recent wins have come from criticized movies and TV shows. Take 365 Days: This Day, for example, which briefly became Netflix’s most popular movie. despite a dismal 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Or Anatomy of a Scandal, which soared to the top of the platform’s most watched chart regardless of its largely negative critical reception.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with middling productions challenging their detractors to record impressive ratings — in some cases, audiences simply liked the movies and TV shows in question better than critics. But Netflix has acquired a disturbing recent habit of giving time to genuinely interesting original projects that have fared much better critically.
Consider The Baby-Sitters Club, a universally loved comedy drama that still has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). Despite its popularity, the show was canceled by Netflix after just two seasons. Then there’s the sci-fi epic Another Life, Mindy Kaling’s scripted comedy Never Have I Ever, the gripping psychological thriller Sense8 and Stranger Things’ adjoining The OA – all canned ahead of their time.
Given the struggle to keep subscribers in recent months, Netflix needs short-term success, and productions like The Interceptor appear to be providing moments of relief. But we can’t help but feel like these popcorn movies are coming at the expense of more thoughtful movies and TV series.