Netflix’s Close (2019) REVIEW – Close But No Cigar

Close starts off strong before totally veering off track in its second half.

Close 2019 movie
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Close tells the story of Sam Carlson, a female bodyguard who is hired to protect a wealthy young heiress named Zoe. When the pair are ambushed as part of an attempted kidnap, they are forced to go on the run and soon become entangled in a complicated web of deceit.

The opening sequence introduces us to the tough, smart and professional Sam Carlson taking part in another assignment escorting and protecting a group of journalists. The film throws us right into the action as they narrowly avoid being blown up by a missile then shot at by another truck. In this brief, action-packed sequence, we see Sam showing her prowess and skill as a bodyguard. Not only is she well versed in gunplay, but she also uses cunning tactics to outsmart her opponents, showing exactly why she is the woman for the job.

The start of Close has a very Bond-like feel to it with the inclusion of an action-packed pre-credit sequence followed by opening credits that have sexy graphics and imagery, underscored by a catchy song. The editing in the first half of the film is seamless, allowing for smooth transitions between scenes, resulting in a slick style that goes hand-in-hand with the action thriller style of the film. The use of close ups and tight angles add intensity and intimacy during many of the earlier sequences. There are also some excellent wide establishing shots that do a great job of setting the scene and capture the sparse and unforgiving but still beautiful landscapes and locations. Unfortunately, in the second half of the film, the snappy editing and camerawork loses its way a bit. There are a few odd occasions where scenes appear to cut way too early and the following sequences fail to follow on smoothly which cause a slightly disorientating watch.

There are some interesting action scenarios where we see Sam and Zoe fighting for their lives. The sequence where Zoe is trapped in the house during lock-down is very well done. The idea that the security system designed to protect Zoe is used against her is a clever little concept. Additionally, Sam’s quick thinking solution to save the day makes the whole sequence immediately more exciting and thrilling. The second instance is when they are trapped inside a police car when Sam uses some nifty moves and Zoe does something hugely surprising. These gritty and intense fight encounters are tense and gripping. Sadly, the choreography in the latter half of the film isn’t as well polished. The later fight scenes don’t deliver the same impact and feel clunky and poorly timed.

Close provides something different in the fact that it is told from a female perspective. The film is written and directed by a woman and the three leading actresses are the main focus of the narrative. It is refreshing and provides a different take on a film that would typically be male orientated. Sam is a very well crafted character and her strong, determined and capable attitude aligns well with the idea of her being a trained bodyguard. At the same time, there is a hidden vulnerability within her which becomes more apparent as the story unfolds. Noomi Rapace gives a brilliant performance, striking that balance between strong willed and cold with vulnerable and emotional.

Carlson starts off as a calm, level headed bodyguard with a particular set of skills that make her a force to be reckoned with. For some reason, near the end of the film she suddenly makes a lot of mistakes and doesn’t seem as competent as a bodyguard anymore. While a traumatic event affects her deeply, it still shouldn’t have that much impact on her capability as a fighter.

Sound is one of the strongest aspects of the film and is used to great effect, both in creating atmosphere and reflecting the characters’ emotional state and feelings. In one particular editing transition, a nightclub beat blends into the spinning blades of a helicopter in mid-flight. Later on, the multitude of sounds in a market are amplified to reinforce how Zoe is totally overwhelmed following a life-threatening encounter. The use of sound makes for a much more immersive experience and highlights how noise can be an effective filmmaking device.

Close starts off strong with an interesting lead character in the form of Sam Carlson, smooth camerawork, seamless editing and punchy choreography. The tension slowly builds and then explodes with impact during the action sequences. Unfortunately, the second half of the film loses its way and suffers from sloppy editing, lackluster fight sequences and frustrating character developments. The clever use of sound and a gripping performance from Rapace almost redeem it, but a weak script and an anti-climatic finale lets down what could have been a very promising film.

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