Close (2019) ☆☆1/2 (2.5/4): A passable action thriller from Nexflix

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Netflix movie “Close”, which was released on last Friday, is a passable action thriller with some good things to be appreciated. While it does not break any new ground in its genre territory, the movie brings some nice fresh air to its familiar plot and premise via its tough heroine, and the overall result is fairly watchable although it is often stuck with its genre clichés and conventions.

Noomi Rapace, a wonderful Swedish actress who is no stranger to playing strong-willed female characters as shown from her unforgettable breakthrough turn in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009), plays a female professional bodyguard named Sam Carlson, who is doing her latest job when we are introduced to her during the opening scene. She is protecting a couple of reporters working in a conflict zone of South Sudan, and, not so surprisingly, they soon find themselves in a perilous situation where she must think and act fast for their escape and survival.

Not long after she returns to her modest residence, Sam receives a message from her security company. A young wealthy heiress named Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nélisse) happens to need a new bodyguard right now after the previous one leaves due to his inappropriate relationship with her, and, despite her initial reluctance, Sam agrees to take this new job mainly because there is not anyone available in her security company.

Right from their first encounter, Sam and Zoe do not get along well with each other, and Zoe does not like constantly being watched and protected by Sam, but the situation becomes quite serious for both of them as Zoe happens to be the sole owner of her recently diseased father’s prominent global mining company as inheriting a large amount of company stock originally belonging to him. Her stepmother, who is incidentally the daughter of the founder of the company, is understandably not so pleased about that, but there is a big business matter to be handled by her as soon as possible, and the last thing she wants is any trouble from Zoe, your average problematic girl who still feels hurt by her unhappy childhood.

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Shortly after the will of Zoe’s father is read, Zoe is sent to Morocco along with Sam as instructed by Zoe’s stepmother, and they subsequently arrive at a big family house located in some remote area, which, as Zoe sarcastically points out, looks more like a fortress in its drab appearance. While her stepmother handles that business matter, she will be stuck there as protected by Sam as well as other guards and the high-tech security system in the house, and it looks like Sam’s job will be soon done without much trouble.

Of course, her job turns out to be a lot more dangerous than expected, and it is not much of a spoiler to tell you that Sam and Zoe come to run away from a bunch of figures chasing after Zoe. Even though she is officially not Zoe’s bodyguard anymore, Sam becomes quite determined to protect Zoe as much as she can, and we accordingly get a number of intense action scenes as she and Zoe struggle for any chance of survival. While there is an impressive action scene unfolded inside a vehicle, we also get a brutal physical action sequence which will probably make you cringe at times, and there later comes a well-made underwater action scene which is as thrilling as required.

These and other action sequences in the movie are handled well under the competent direction of director/co-writer Vicky Jewson, who wrote the screenplay with producer Rupert Whitaker. While thankfully avoiding dizzy camera work and choppy editing, the movie did a good job of conveying to us the palpable impacts of the physical actions depicted on the screen, and Jewson demonstrates here that she is a skillful action director who knows how to present effective action scenes on the screen.

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It surely helps that the movie is supported well by its two main performers. While ably embodying her character’s stoic toughness, Rapace brings considerable intensity to her action scenes, and she is also complemented well by Sophie Nélisse. a young Canadian actress who has steadily advanced since her memorable supporting turn in Oscar-nominated Canadian film “Monsieur Lazhar” (2011). Thanks to their solid performance, the development of their characters’ relationship is believable and engaging, and I like how they gradually bring out their characters’ softer side along the story.

However, I must point out that the movie does not entirely work as remaining with its genre clichés and conventions. While several narrative turns in the story may not be that surprising to you if you are a seasoned moviegoer like me, you can also easily discern what is really going on if you are well aware of the Law of Economy of Characters. In addition, Jewson and Whitaker’s screenplay falters when it attempts to explain what motivates its heroine, and I think the movie could be a bit better without that clumsy attempt of explanation.

Anyway, despite its several weak spots, “Close” is still an efficient genre piece clearly showing the efforts from its cast and crew, and I will not deny that I enjoyed it to some degrees while appreciating its good elements including the strong acting turn from Napace, who surely confirms to us that she can play an action movie heroine as well as Charlize Theron or Gal Gadot. Although I am not entirely satisfied with the movie, it was not a waste of time at least, and I hope that Rapace and Jewson will work again together for something better in the future.

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