Close harkens back to a style of action films that has found a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The ones where the hardened hero finds a chance for redemption by reluctantly agreeing to protect an innocent soul. The hero in this case is Sam Carlson (Noomi Rapace), a bodyguard and counter-terrorism expert, who takes on a job to guard rich heiress Zoe Tanner (Sophie Nélisse). Mourning the recent passing of her father, Zoe has become the majority stakeholder of her father’s mining company, which is currently being overseen by her unloving stepmother Rime Hassine (Indira Varma).
While Zoe does not seem to care about her newfound power, others have a vested interest in ensuring that she does not hinder a potential corporate merger. Unknowing of the corporate stakes at play, Zoe soon finds herself on the run, after a failed kidnapping attempt, with only Sam to rely on.
Opening with a tense scene, in which Sam is using her lethal skills while protecting two members of the press in the Middle East, director Vicky Jewson sets the tone early. She fills the film with several action set pieces, the underwater fight being the most thrilling, that do a solid job of establishing Sam as a brooding badass. While Jewson does not delve into Sam’s history with any depth, we know she has a child that she gave up, she provides just enough to make the surrogate mother-daughter relationship between Sam and Zoe work.
Where the film struggles to maintain its edge is in the script. While one can ignore the bland inner workings of this corporate merger, it is tougher to forgive the film’s problematic second half. The last act, which should be the triumphant crescendo of any great action film, is particularly misguided as it forces Sam to sit on the sidelines as Zoe fumbles her way towards claiming her agency. By making Sam a passenger in her own story, the action beats take a hit and exposes just how underwritten Zoe really is.
There is plenty of potential within Close that the latter half of the film never fully exploits. Hopefully Vicky Jewson and Noomi Rapace will reteam again for a sequel as this character is worthy of a franchise. One just hopes the plot will be as killer as Sam herself.