Bullet Points: Enemies Closer
There are a number of questions that I could be asked after my viewing of Enemies Closer for this chapter of Bullet Points. Was it any good? Did the characters draw me in? Were the actions scenes well filmed and executed by the cast and crew? Was the story simple enough to follow, yet still had a couple of twists to keep it fun? The answer to these questions is simple: Jean Claude Van Damme. He owns this movie. Every second his character wasn’t on screen I spent wondering what he was doing. He does more with a handful of lines and quirky behavior than a lot of actors do with pages worth of dialogue and $200 million budgets (Michael Bay comes to mind). I will be the first to tell you that I am a huge fan of JCVD, and based on his early career the man can really do no wrong for me. On the other hand, he has obviously transitioning from his “hero” roles to something much different, and I am enjoying the hell out of it.
The Gist: Henry (Tom Everett Scott) is a former Navy Seal diver and natural park ranger on the U.S./Canada border. When a plane full of heroin crashes near the almost uninhabited island, Xander (JCVD) and his crew are dispatched to retrieve the drugs at any and all cost. Matters are further worsened when Clay (Orlando Jones), a mysterious stranger with a personal vendetta against Henry, stows away on the island. The two must decide to kill each other, or work together if they want to survive the onslaught of Xander and his men.
The Cast: The casting was a very interesting choice. I feel like the director just drunkingly threw darts at a board of available actors….”how about the guy from That Thing You Do, the dude from the 7-Up commercials, and JCVD?” I can’t complain too much with the casting of Van Damme as he is one of my all-time favorite action stars. Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones aren’t terrible either, but I wouldn’t say that they were that good either. My one knock against Scott is that he was given the backstory of a Navy SEAL, and while I understand the need to give him the diving skills necessary for the plot, at no point does he ever live up to the level of “badassness” that a SEAL should have. I think that he could have just as easily had been a Navy diver of some sort and it would have worked as well.
The two finally agree over their choice of lemon lime flavored beverage. 7-up saves the day again!
The Villain: My guy Jean Claude totally owns this movie! I’ve spoken about it before, and it bears repeating, but this change in the action genre where the villain is given a little bit more in way of character and motivation is pretty great. JCVD does more with his mannerisms and a few lines than any villain I’ve seen recently. He owes a great deal of his performance to just how weird and unusual he looks. His crazy-ass hair and they way he is introduced helps to get him “over” immediately. I love the fact that he hates the use of guns and prefers to use his bare hands. It gives us the chance to see him kick some ass before all of the shooting starts. Plus, as there are fewer and fewer legit martial artists in action movies, it gets harder and harder to find actors who can have decent fight scenes with guys like JCVD.
I hope that the Canadian Mounties have used this picture for recruitment purposes.
The Action: The action has its moments throughout the film. The events in the movie take place in one evening, which I don’t feel was ever emphasized enough. It is cool to watch during the movie as the night gets darker and it becomes harder to see from scene to scene. I did make it a bit more difficult to see the action as it was happening but it made sense based on the where the stuff was happening. Scott and Jones were involved a several shoot-outs but you never get the sense that Scott is any type of weapons expert. I mean, he should be. If he were a Navy SEAL, he would be pretty damn adept at using any type of weapon systems. I wasn’t a SEAL, but I can still pick up any gun and rip shit up with it. Van Damme doesn’t get to have a knock-down, drag-out fight with anyone, which I appreciated. He overmatched both of our heroes and it was kind of cool that they ended up attacking him together and making it a handicap match.
Get ready for 119 minutes of Tom Everett Scott being choked!
Take it Home:
–Favorite quotes from JCVD: “I hate guns. They are very bad for the environment.”
-“Think about our carbon footprints” breaks a guy’s neck, “think about the children.”
-“F*cking Gasoline! I knew it would ruin everything!”
–Run time: The film was only about 80 minutes long, which felt about right to me. There wasn’t much time to waste and it felt well paced to me.
–Family matters: One of Van Damme’s henchmen, Francois, is his real-life son Kristopher Van Varenberg.
–Film history: The director Peter Hyams previously directed JCVD in both Timecop and Sudden Death.
This movie takes advantage of the craziness of Van Damme and gets a decent performance from everyone else. The short length of this movie makes it much more watchable as it doesn’t waste time with useless back stories or ridiculous love interests. Give it a watch.