Noomi Rapace has Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy under her belt, and can film by Brian De Palma and Ridley Scott on her resume – but the actress has yet to become a household name.
Close, now on Netflix, it won't be a movie that is proof that, where action is concerned, Rapace could easily match stars like Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise.
Directed by Vicky Jewson (Born of War) and loosely based on the experiences of real-life female bodyguards Jacquie Davis (whose clients have included J.K. Rowling and members of the British royal family), Close Rapace as Sam stars, the bodyguard hired to protect young heiress Zoe (Sophie Nélisse). As usual, the straightforward job turns into a web of conspiracy, Sam and Zoe is a stakeholder enemy in the late father's company.
The remaining pieces are relatively easy to put together: Zoe is a spoiled person who needs to learn to care for other people; Sam is a emotionally closed-off tough guy who needs to learn to embrace her feelings. Whether or not they make it through their respective emotional journeys alive, we'll leave it to you, but it's suffice to say that the stakes are unusually low for a story that's built on nothing but stakes.
Then again, that may be the problem; the drama is a logical springboard for action – which is where the movie excels – but it may be either thinner (Zoe and Sam's inner turmoil is not interesting enough to warrant the time spent on it – apologies if this makes me sound callous) or being fleshed out further. It's a difficult balance to strike, and one that Close subsidies, with a few last-minute character, rather than particularly interesting.
Of course, there is really one thing that this movie is meant to showcase: Rapace. She 's proven to be the most chameleonic – meek in Stockholm; un-fuck-with-able in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; seven distinct personalities in one movie in What's Happened to Monday – so Close'S "female Jason Bourne" angle is a walk from the park.
The fact that she has all her own stunts, and her commanding presence as an actor, brings immediacy to every fight scene. Her physicality of spoke volumes when she played Lisbeth Salander, and she still possesses that same magnetism (and sense that is not to be messed with) here, if Sam's event is as compelling of a character.
Luckily, Jewry is particularly good at shooting action, as Close come to life when Rapace is set loose. An early scene sees her hands and her hands tied behind her, with the schools of fish swimming all around the combatants. Despite all the disparate elements in the scene, it's always crystal clear what's going on – and who has the upper hand.
The way the characters change in order to move the story along, however, is stale by contrast. That is the bodyguard-subject template that is filled with two things, it is a growing bond between them and the refusal to push Sam towards being hyper-feminine or hyper masculine in order to make it seem somehow cooler, , or tougher. She’s tough the way she is. Close Isn't so much an emotional puzzle to be solved as it is a box for Rapace to fight her way out of. But there is enough space for the most interesting commentary to flourish.
Close is a curio as the latest action movie to star a female lead (recent releases including Atomic Blonde and Tomb Raider), sporting events, like the English-language Millennium film series, a stylish opening credits sequence. That opening, however, in combination with the more aspects of the film, does nothing to help build a structure worthy of Rapace's talents.