Close – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Close protection operative, Sam Carlson (Noomi Rapace) is hired to protect wild child, billionaires daughter, Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nélisse) shortly after her father’s death. Zoe stands to inherit all of his company shares, much to the displeasure of his widow and second wife and Zoe’s estranged stepmother, Rima Hassine (Indira Varma).

With an impending deal on the horizon, Rima sends Zoe to stay in Morocco for safety. Whilst in Morocco a team of mercenaries try to kill her, forcing Sam to do all in her power to protect her from assailants and unsure where her enemies are coming from.

Is it any good?: It is not. It is not terrible, it is just not as good as it promises in the opening sequence. Rapace is a wonderfully watchable actor and really commands the screen with her looks that lean more toward handsome rather than pretty. Unfortunately, director and writer Vicky Jewson has too much going on to fashion a coherent story. Fun fact – her sister, Olivia, is in the opening, promising scene where she plays one of the petrified journalists that Rapace’s Sam protects.

Spoiler territory: Sam is in one of the more volatile African regions of the world travelling with a couple of journalists. The jeep they are in gets attacked and Sam kills all of the assailants that attack and get the journalist to safety.

Elsewhere, a bodyguard tells Zoe that she has to get ready. They are in the vast grounds of her family home where people have gathered for her father’s funereal surface. Sam has returned home and is ignoring various phone messages. She has received a message from a young woman that seems to bother her.

Rima, who had been working on a mining deal before her husband’s death, is dismayed to learn of a press leak regarding there deal. She goes to see Zoe and tells her the lawyers are waiting to read the will. Zoe is awarded all of her father’s shares much to Rima’s dismay. Rima has business to conduct in Morocco regarding the mining deal and insist that Zoe come with her. She is to be assigned a new bodyguard. Someone female so as she cannot sleep with them.

Sam is contacted for the job. She is to protect Zoe until they reach Morocco. After that Rima’s people will take over the protection detail. She is met off the plane by Conall (Eoin Macken). The two have a history together and share an uncomfortable conversation as they travel to meet Zoe.

Sam meets the bratty Zoe and has to accompany her to a nightclub where she is also forced to persuade an amorous admirer of Zoe to leave her alone. The next day, Sam flies with Zoe to a remote complex in Morocco. The home is a fortress and fortified with cameras and panic rooms. Sam insists that Sam stay the night even though she is told she can leave. Sam agrees to stay the night.

As night falls Sam wanders around the complex checking out the security room. Due to the house’s vast technological defences, there are very few security guards in attendance. During the night the cameras are disabled and the security shutters over-ridden, causing them to shut down. The house, which has explosive shells in the wall, disables most of the skeleton security.

Sam, who had noticed to shutters closing, managed to escape her room and goes to get Zoe. Zoe, who is locked in her room, is told to lay on the floor by Sam and wait for the shutters to re-open as she knows the men who are attacking the house are after Zoe. When the shutter opens, Zoe escapes and they both run.

They are picked up by a police officer. He turns out to be corrupt and as Sam tries to free them, Zoe shoots one of the police officers. The two women flee and hide out in Morocco. Zoe calls Rima but she only seems interested in Zoe’s actions effect on the company share price and her impending deal.

Sam goes to arrange for the two of them to get out of Morocco. Rima is trying to rescue her deal and is getting pressure from the mining company. She makes another call and has a cryptic conversation. Back with Sam and Zoe, Sam is disguising Zoe and tending to her wounded feet. Zoe asks her if she has any children. Sam lies telling her she does not.

Sam goes to see the damage done to the safe house. She wants Zoe found. Conall comes to meet Sam. She and Conall argue out of earshot of Zoe but Zoe does find out Sam has a daughter. Conall gets killed and two men come. One snatches Zoe the other wrestles with a handcuffed Sam. Sam manages to fight him off and kill him. Zoe is fighting not to get put in the back of a van much to the amusement of her captor. Sam catches up to them and kills him.

The two women go on the run again, Sam using the last of her money to buy a taxi. There go to see Rima but see one of the men who attack them meeting with her. The women follow him to a dock and Sam tries to gather some evidence. She is attacked by the man and kills him. She finds Rima’s computer password details on him and the two women head back to the safe house.

An increasingly nervous Rima is confronted by her business rival, Watt Li (Kevin Shen) and told to drop her bid. He indicates to her it would be in Zoe’s best interest if she pulled out of the deal. Back at the safe house, Zoe uses Rima’s password to access the computer and operate its defence systems. Rima is alerted to the password breach via her phone.

The women see cars approaching and suspect it is Rima, believing she has sent people after them. Rima takes a helicopter to the safe house and is confronted by one of the mercenaries. Zoe and Sam watch as the mercenary put a beatdown on her. Zoe leaves the room and goes to help her locking Sam in. Sam remembers the password to the room and gets out in time to stop Zoe from getting shot. She kills the attacker and Rima’s people take everyone else. The end.

Close is a slightly disappointing film because of the good elements in it. The acting is good from all concerned, even from the Moroccan/African bit parters who are only required to play up to stereotypes. The action scenes are quite good and not so farfetched as to be unbelievable. Like I said at the beginning, Rapace is always watchable. Even in the godawful Prometheus, she was compelling.

Jewson’s direction is good and, in parts, the script is not bad but the story is just too muddy. One has very little idea what the stakes are or who the real protagonist is. Shen’s Watt Li is in the film for only two scenes so his veiled threat towards Zoe carries very little weight.

At ninety-four minutes long, Close is, for the story, it is trying to fashion, a little too short. With the multiple strands and backstory it had going on there was no sense of an overriding central premise. Yes, everyone is trying to kill Zoe but why? As it turned out not to be Rima, Li wanting her dead made no sense in terms of story.

Close scores a paltry five-point seven on IMDB which is probably about right. Unless you are a massive fan of Rapace, you should probably give this one a miss. disappointing.

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