• Enemies Closer



    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: March 11th, 2014.
    Director: Peter Hyams
    Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tom Everett Scott, Orlando Jones, Linzey Cocker
    Year: 2013
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Peter Hyams, the same man who directed top billed Jean-Claude Van Damme in Timecop, Sudden Death and The Relic, 2013’s Enemies Closer follows a park ranger named Henry (Tom Everett Scott) who works in a national park on the remote King’s Island near the border with Canada (presumably Quebec). While making his rounds he saves a foxy hiker named Kayla (Linzey Cocker) who gets injured while wandering around. He helps her get back to her boat and she wants him to meet her for dinner later that night. Meanwhile, at an Immigration And Customs Enforcement base, a few border guards are discussing the crash landing of a plane near King’s Island. Before they can go and investigate, a group of French Canadian Mounties literally show up on their doorstep. They want to help but the Americans are having none of it and instead make fun of their unexpected guests. Soon enough, however, the lead Mountie in charge, Xander (Van Damme) proves he’s not a Mountie at all but just a psychotic French Canadian by killing all of the ICE agents and swiping their information.

    Before Henry can head off on his hot date, he winds up getting a surprise visit of his own from an armed gunman named Clay (Orlando Jones), a man who wants to avenge the death of his brother, a soldier who died under Henry’s watch in Afghanistan. Before Clay can kill Henry, however, Xander and his men show up looking for the plane. As you’d expect, Clay and Henry strike up an uneasy alliance in hopes that if they work together they’ll be able to make it back to civilization alive before the crazed Xander gets what he wants from them and leaves them dead at the bottom of the lake…

    At eighty-five minutes in length Hyams’ film is a fast paced picture that offers up some pretty decent action in a picturesque setting but which doesn’t really have a whole lot to offer in terms of originality. The script plays out pretty much exactly the way any seasoned action movie fan would expect it to, right down to the ‘big twist’ that happens before the final fight that all of this builds towards. The excitement that the movie offers comes not from suspense but from slick violence and well-choreographed action set pieces that make good use of their respective environments – a remote cabin in the woods, a boat, the ranger’s cabin and a nearby dock respectively.

    Performances are okay. Not amazing, but okay. Scott makes for a likeable lead and while he’s unlikely to ever make the transition to full time big screen action hero, he handles himself well in the fight scenes. The same goes for Orlando Jones, and while the motivation behind his character’s initial attempt on Henry’s life is farfetched, Jones sells it well enough. Cocker is pretty enough that we can see why Henry would pay attention to her and she does fine in her role as well.

    The real reason to watch this though? Van Damme. While he got to play the bad guy in The Expendables 2, he’s got more screen time here and watching him strut around with his hair, dyed red, a big mess and his eyes all ablaze as he chews right through the scenery around him is a lot of fun. He goes right over the top here and while there’s generally something to be said for subtlety, when you’re dealing with a movie as conceptually contrived and flawed as this one is, sometimes it’s better to just go for it. The script has some rather large plot holes (there’s no way the ICE guys would allow a bunch of random Mounties to just wander on into their HQ and there’s no way a bunch of Mounties would think to show up on horseback in full dress uniform to do so – unless these fake Mounties knew that this particular batch of ICE agents were complete morons…) but when Van Damme goes off as hot headedly and as frequently as he does here it’s easy to ignore them.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Enemies Closer arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that generally looks very nice. A few scattered shots look a little bit hazy for some reason but outside of that the movie, which was shot digitally, is crisp and clean and as colorful as it realistically can, given that much of it takes place at night in the dark. Skin tones look lifelike and realistic and black levels are good. There are no obvious compression artifacts and detail is pretty strong throughout the movie. There’s no edge enhancement to complain about nor are there any problems with noise reduction. All in all, the movie looks good on Blu-ray.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, though optional subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish. This is a pretty active track that makes good use of the front and rear channels in the mix, particularly during the action scenes. Gun shots have nice punch behind them and the levels stay properly balanced. As you’d expect, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue, accents notwithstanding, is always properly balanced and has good depth to it. Nothing to complain about here!

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track from director Peter Hyams in which the director talks about the making of the picture, as you’d expect. He covers the contributions of the different cast and crew members, the locations, the stunt work and his working relationship with Van Damme. It’s a fairly relaxed talk that offers up some decent information at a completely acceptable but never particularly thrilling pace.

    The disc also includes a ten minute making of featurette that is mostly made up of footage shot on set during the production but which does include some brief interviews with Van Damme and Hyams. They’re not particularly deep or revelatory but some of the behind the scenes footage showing off the fight choreography is interesting. Outside of that we get some animated menus, chapter selection and previews for other Lionsgate titles available on Blu-ray now. There’s also a download code for a digital copy included inside the keepcase.

    The Final Word:

    Enemies Closer isn’t going to win any awards – it’s got too many clichés and plot holes for that – but it does feature a pretty great performance from Van Damme. The rest of the cast are perfectly acceptable but JCVD really goes over the top here and steals the show. This is good brainless fun and the Blu-ray from Lionsgate presents it all in nice quality with some okay extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!