Adam’s year starts with a bang as he reviews Close the new action film from director Vicky Jewson starring Noomi Rapace
Often times action films are overwrought with complications. Ornately detailed plotting and exposition so smart that it even confuses the filmmakers. Close the new film from director Vicky Jewson takes the lean and economical approach to its story and action. The results are a great action vehicle for star Noomi Rapace where the stakes refreshingly human and not something as ridiculous as saving the world. The film gives Rapace the kind of kick-ass leading woman roles that the actress should be given.
Sam (Rapace) is the kind of no-nonsense Security Expert that one would want in any sort of conflict driven part of the world. We see Sam in the tense opening sequence take out a larger opposing force with scary efficiency. But she’s burnt out, in need of R&R, time to sort things out. So, of course, as the story goes, another job comes-a-knocking. This one is supposed to be easy, “babysitting” a Billionaire Heiress Zoe (Sophie Niélisse) in her villa in Morocco. As we know nothing is ever that easy in an action film. Quickly, Sam and Zoe are in the fights for their respective lives. Sam forced to keep herself and this young now Billionaire alive to figure out what and why these attempts on Zoe’s life are happening.
The script by Jewson and Rupert Whitaker trades bombastic giant set pieces for brutal close quarter combat scenes and adroit storytelling with a few smart tricks narratively speaking up their sleeves. The film manages to have giant stakes but remains the type of humane small scale story that action fans see very little of anymore. Under Jewson, the film is a character piece punctuated by great intense action sequences. Close and its action is all the better for the time we spend getting to know Sam and Zoe. Rarely in action films, even the biggest budgeted, do we see the emotional bond created by these two characters as they head into dangerous waters.
Rapace is as good as she’s ever been in Close. As Sam, she brings a specific quiet gravitas that few action leads, male or female, bring to the screen. The years of the constant pressure of dealing in violence is shown not by dialog but intimate moments of reflection. Rather than playing protracted scenes of constant dialog with superiors, Jewson zeroes in on Rapace’s physical performance, allowing the actor to show that trauma physically. Rapace takes these moments and gives them the grace and directness that her best work has shown.
Close is the type of film that true fans of action cinema crave; slick, emotionally resonant, hard-hitting, smart stories with great tense action. At the center is director Vicky Jewson and star Noomi Rapace who have found the complimentary artists in one another. An audience can only hope that Jewson and Rapace feel the same way and grace us with more films. Close simply put is a kicks ass piece of cinema.