Close (United Kingdom/United States, 2019)

January 20, 2019
A movie review by James Berardinelli
Close Poster

Close feels like many of the numerous direct-to-DVD titles that were prevalent during the 2000s. High on action and low on logic, those movies were made quickly and for little money to satisfy an audience whose expectations were for 90 minutes of turn-off-the-brain violence. That’s pretty much what Close offers. There’s a twist, however – this film was made by and stars a woman. Men in this universe fulfill three roles: villains, henchmen, and victims.

Had Close been more memorable, it might have earned Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) a spot in the club of kick-ass women whose membership includes Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Geena Davis, and Charlize Theron (among others). Unfortunately, few words describe this movie better than “forgettable.” The action sequences are workmanlike but the plot exists as tissue paper to tie them together. Attempts to humanize Rapace’s bodyguard-for-hire Sam Carlson fall flat. Yes, we understand she’s a tragic figure with more than a few skeletons in her closet but we never feel much for her. Like Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the ‘80s, she’s a well-tuned killing machine.

The story places Sam in charge of watching the back of twentysomething Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nelisse), the daughter of a recently-deceased multi-millionaire businessman who has left her all his company shares. The terms of his will don’t sit well with his widow, Rima Hassine (Indira Varma), so when a group of nameless, faceless killers comes after Zoe, it’s reasonable to suspect her involvement. Or is it? Regardless, Close unspools as a chase with Zoe and Sam fleeing the bad guys across Morocco, searching for a way for Zoe to be able to surface and live a normal life again.

Close feels like it was made on a tight budget. The film lacks scope and breadth. American action movies are often rightly criticized for being excessive and over-the-top, but Close could have used a little of that juice. Consequences in this world seem small and, although 33-year old director Vicky Jewson understands how to shoot and edit fights and chases, she fails to build momentum from one to the next. The actors lack chemistry – although Sophie Nelisse’s mannequin-inspired performance may be part of the problem – so the emotional connection necessary to making a film like this work is absent. Sam and Zoe remain strangers to each other and the audience.

Close’s ready availability on Netflix will enhance its viewership but this sort of movie won’t enrich the streaming service’s reputation. It’s disposable action entertainment – a throw-away title that’s not bad enough to turn off but not good enough to seek out. Netflix offers a lot better options and I’d suggest seeking those productions out before getting cozy with Close.

Close (United Kingdom/United States, 2019)

Director: Vicky Jewson
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Sophie Nelisse, Indira Varma
Screenplay: Vicky Jewson, Rupert Whitaker
Cinematography: Malte Rosenfeld
Music: Marc Canham
U.S. Distributor: Netflix
Run Time: 1:34
U.S. Release Date: 2019-01-18
MPAA Rating: "NR" (Extreme Violence, Gore, Profanity)
Genre: Action/Thriller
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1