REVIEW: ENEMIES CLOSER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PETER HYAMS / SCREENPLAY: ERIC BROMBERG, JAMES BROMBERG / STARRING: JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, TOM EVERETT SCOTT, ORLANDO JONES, LINZEY COCKER / RELEASE DATE: JULY 21ST
This latest straight-to-home-release JCVD-starrer is a fun, if predictable, actioner that sees the 'Muscles from Brussels' teaming up once more with director Hyams (Timecop, Sudden Death). Early on, we’re introduced to Henry (Scott), a former Navy SEAL turned Forest Ranger who seeks isolation in a forest located on the US/Canadian border. What Henry doesn’t realise is that Clay (Jones) is set to turn up at his door with revenge on his mind for his brother’s death; a brother who died on duty whilst under the leadership of Henry back in the day. With the two at odds, they must work together to fight the crazed menace of Xander (Van Damme), a French-Canadian vegan who happens to be heading up a drug cartel in search of some lost cargo that went down near to the peaceful, idyllic forest. Yes, after his scene-stealing turn in The Expendables 2, JCVD is one again playing the bad guy.
Enemies Closer may be a film that is firmly aimed at fans of '80s action movies, but from the opening moments of JCVD taking down a group of guys by simply using various computer accessories (all that’s missing is a USB drive shoved up someone’s arse), you can’t help but be drawn in by Hyams movie. Make no mistake, it’s riddled with cheesy dialogue, some massively over-the-top brawls, and one-liners that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze proud (“Put the kayak down”; “You make one wrong move, you’re gonna have a new asshole”) Central to the film is another staple of '80s cinema: angsty partners. Scott and Jones’ characters, despite some clear differences and bickering, have to team up to take down Van Damme. Reminiscent of the Roddy Piper/Keith David dynamic from They Live, the two are just as happy cracking wise as they are with having a slapstick fight involving tins of soup and irons.
Of course, Van Damme is the flagship name here, and he delivers a brilliantlY loony performance, making you wonder why it took so long for him to turn to the dark side after all these years. Don’t be expecting the serious, hand-shacking, baby-kissing good guy who throws out a quip or two – this Van Damme hams it up something rotten, producing an erratic villain who, in the blink of an eye, goes from talking about carbon footprints to ramming a branch through somebody’s windpipe. Meanwhile, Jones is decent, although it’s hard to really buy into Dead Man on Campus and An American Werewolf in Paris’ Scott as an action-type of guy.
At a running time of just over 100 minutes, Enemies Closer is breezy, enjoyable fun that’s not to be taken too seriously. Predictable, yes, but it’s worth a watch just to see Van Damme’s crazed hairdo.
Extras: A Closer Look – Making of Enemies Closer / Audio commentary with Peter Hyams