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On Netflix: CLOSE (2019)

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CLOSE
(UK/Ireland - 2019)

Directed by Vicky Jewson. Written by Vicky Jewson and Rupert Whitaker. Cast: Noomi Rapace, Sophie Nelisse, Indira Varma, Eoin Macken, Abdesslam Bouhssini, George Georgiu, Christopher Sciuref, Akin Gazi, Kevin Shen, Sargon Yelda, Huw Parmenter. (Unrated, 94 mins)

To fans of foreign cinema, Noomi Rapace will forever be known as the original Lisbeth Salander in the Scandinavian adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and its two sequels. The films were big enough arthouse hits in the US that Rapace moved on to Hollywood, co-starring in SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS and headlining Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS, but she never quite made it on the A-list with smaller films like DEAD MAN DOWN, Brian De Palma's PASSION, and THE DROP. Unless you follow Netflix Original or straight-to-VOD genre offerings, Rapace has likely fallen off the radar a bit with mainstream moviegoers. But since 2017, she's been very quietly establishing herself as a go-to star of action and/or sci-fi fare with 2017's not-bad terrorism thriller UNLOCKED and turning in seven convincing performances as septuplets in Netflix's solid future dystopia saga WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY (plus there was RUPTURE, which wasn't very good, but she's great in it, and she emerged unscathed from Netflix's dismal Will Smith dud BRIGHT). Rapace is back in another Netflix Original film with the British pickup CLOSE, and while it doesn't exactly break new ground, it's further evidence that she's deserving of her own BOURNE-style action franchise.






After barely surviving a skirmish with insurgents where she's assigned to protect two members of the media in a Middle East war zone, freelance counter-terrorism expert and bodyguard Sam Carlson (Rapace) is in no hurry to accept another gig. But she's pressed into service to protect Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nelisse of THE BOOK THIEF), a spoiled teenage party girl whose billionaire father has just died and left her the majority of the shares of his Morocco-based mining company. Troubled by her mother's suicide when she was ten and with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, Zoe doesn't get along with her stepmother Rima (Indira Varma), who plans to contest her late husband's will. She sends Zoe from their British castle to the family compound in the outskirts of Casablanca, in the process getting rid of her friends-with-benefits male bodyguard and insisting her security detail "find one she can't fuck." This leads to Sam, and while neither of them are happy about the arrangement, Sam does the job she's paid to do. Once they're in Morocco, a team of hired killers raid the compound, taking out the entire security team and sending Sam and Zoe on the run.


Directed and co-written by Vicky Jewson, CLOSE doesn't exactly bring anything new to the table in terms of story or style, but it's nice to see a tough, ass-kicking action movie made by and starring women. It's essentially a rehash of THE TRANSPORTER and THE EQUALIZER revamped for Rapace, who just terrific as a stoical woman of few words who's as lethal as any Damon, Statham, or Diesel. Of course, Sam and Zoe are like oil and water from the start but inevitably bond, but the attempt to show Sam's maternal side could've been conveyed without shoehorning in a hackneyed subplot about a daughter she gave up for adoption years ago, though I suppose every lone wolf action hero has to have some tragedy or secret in their past that still haunts them. Nelisse does a good job making a real character out of someone who could've been a one-dimensional caricature, but the gravity of the situation hits Zoe in a credible fashion and she quickly learns to cut the shit and grow up. The finale seems a little too rushed and contrived, like they wanted to avoid making the culprit obvious, but it was a twist that was unnecessary and doesn't seem entirely credible given the character's demeanor up to that point. But on the whole, CLOSE is definitely worth checking out. It's relentlessly-paced and compelling from start to finish, with good chemistry between the leads and a furious, intense performance from Rapace.

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