Directed by Vicky Jewson.
Starring Noomi Rapace, Sophie Nélisse and Indira Varma.
A bodyguard and counter-terrorism expert takes a job protecting a rich young heiress. Neither party is keen on the arrangement until a violent kidnap forces them to go on the run.
There are probably few actresses better qualified and more deserving of their own slick, Atomic Blond-esque action vehicle than Noomi Rapace, but this boilerplate, cheaply assembled effort just doesn’t cut it.
Rapace plays Sam Carlson, a world-class bodyguard who accepts a well-paying job to protect Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nélisse), the spoiled, bratty heiress to a vast mining empire, as she travels to Morocco. Naturally, not everybody’s thrilled about Zoe’s inheritance, and soon enough the bullets start flying in her and Sam’s direction.
Surprisingly enough, Close has one foot planted, however scantly, in reality. Carlson is in fact based on real-life British bodyguard Jacquie Davis, who has purportedly protected the likes of J.K. Rowling, Nicole Kidman and members of the British royal family. And though Rapace is more than capable of lending that inspiration all the gumption it deserves, her solid efforts here are thoroughly limited by Vicky Jewson and Rupert Whitaker’s snoozily formulaic script.
The narrative trajectory is almost exactly as you’ll expect; of course, Sam and Zoe are an uneasy pairing at first, but what better way to smooth over those differences than with a ton of murder in self-defense? Zoe meanwhile has her own personal strife which shares an overly neat parallel with her present mision, and inevitably the hit on young Zoe was ordered by a shadowy figure whose identity forms the movie’s neon-signposted plot twist.
As written, Close is pure stock action filmmaking with virtually nothing to distinguish it beyond its international locale and Rapace’s game performance. It’s especially disappointing considering how few action films are directed by women, and though Jewson proves capable enough behind the camera, there’s little energy or verve to the numerous shootouts and punch-ups.
Production-wise there are also glaring issues; this movie wasn’t made for a pretty penny, as made obvious by the frequent abundance of embarrassingly unconvincing CGI. From low-res green screen backgrounds to painfully cheap news reports and a baffling moment in which a goon’s snapped neck is presented with some digital assistance, it only further invites the feeling that this is low-cost and, sadly, low-effort.
It falls to Rapace to carry the film past its countless defficiencies, then, and she’s so adept as the no-nonsense ass-kicker that she very nearly pulls it off. Whether chewing through the familiar dramatic cud or annihlating fleets of gross men, her commitment to the part is never in doubt, even if you’ll likely end up wishing she had a sturdier script – not to mention a larger budget – to work with.
Though hardly terrible, Close dabbles too enthusiastically in mouldy genre cliches while taking itself deathly seriously – a fatal combination that no actress would really be able to salvage. All the same, Noomi Rapace tries her best to prop up this flatly generic, offputtingly chintzy action thriller.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.