Review: Close (2019)

Netflix are continuing to make their mark on the world of cinema. It’s almost impossible just to keep track of all their original releases , let alone finding the time to watch them all, but the other day, me and Mark had a proper sofa day and got through three of them; Close, Polar and Tau. The only downside is that now I’ve got a backlog of reviews to write. So, without further ado, lets get cracking on with the first one, Close.

Although the storyline is fiction, the inspiration for the lead character, Sam Carlson (Noomi Rapace) comes from real life badass and Britain’s first known female bodyguard, Jacquie Davis, who acted as a consultant on this film.

In a five minute(ish) pre-title scene, Sam is escorting two journalists through South Sudan when they are attacked by rebels. Sam takes care of the attackers and gets both journalists to safety, shaken but unharmed. As an opener, this scene is brilliant at showing the audience Sam’s skills, tenacity and ability to handle difficult, violent situations.

After the title sequence, we are introduced to mining heiress Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nelisse) following the death of her father. After the funeral and the reading of the will, which declares Zoe to inherit the company’s shares, Zoe’s stepmother Rima Hassine (Indira Varma) insists that she travels to the family’s compound in Morocco, where Rima is in the middle of negotiating a billion dollar deal. Due to Zoe’s rather flirtatious nature, Rima insists that a female bodyguard accompanies Zoe for the journey. Despite being outside the scope of her usual assignments, Sam agrees to accept the contract, babysitting a “rich kid with mummy issues”.

After arriving safely in Morocco, the relatively straightforward job turns into a fight for survival after the compound is breached in an attempt to kidnap Zoe. On the run and not sure who to trust, Sam must find a way to get Zoe to safety.

Whilst the story is not wholly original, its familiarity allows you to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

The victims in these types of films can occasionally be a little one-dimensional but Nelisse’s performance is solid, multi-faceted and somewhat relatable, despite the exceptional circumstances and extortionate bank balance. Following Varma’s performance in Game of Thrones, I would have liked to have seen more of her but this may have ruined some of the intrigue of the storyline.

If you have already seen the 2017 film Unlocked you will already understand why Rapace was chosen as the lead. She excels in this type of role. She perfectly balances tough and gritty with femininity and vulnerability, in a performance that I am sure does her real-life counterpart justice.

For me, the best thing about this film is the feeling of realism, especially during the fighting sequences. This isn’t a case of throwing a few punches before touching up your make-up. When these women fight, they get hurt, they bleed. Their cuts and scratches don’t miraculously disappear from one scene to the next. Not only that, but there is a beautiful scene that gives some indication of the emotional toll that a job like this must have.

Although the writing is a little weak at times, the basic premise is a good one and I feel there is the potential to franchise the Sam Carlson character. Let James Bond be James Bond, don’t fix what’s not broken, we have our version right here.

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