Now Available: CLOSE RANGE (2015)

Turbo/XLrator Media
I think the only time I'll ever fully enjoy an Isaac Florentine film is when he's busy immersing the audience in MMA matches with prison Spetz champ, Uri Boyka at the center of an Undisputed film. Beyond that, I can't really help but view last year's Close Range as anything more than what it is. Even with B-movie action cinema, there's a way to hit the sweet spot, and unfortunately this one doesn't. However, that's not to say this film doesn't try and it certainly does, but only in ways we're probably already familiar with.

Action star Scott Adkins is back and doing his best to shake off his English accent to sound more American, here and now Colt MacReady, a former soldier-turned-outlaw. He's got an interesting backstory that would have serviced the film well almost on its own, but here were mostly stuck with a hero we know almost little about, a sister he doesn't get along with, and a niece he's forced to rescue from a corrupt Sheriff working in cahoots with a Mexican drug cartel in search of a missing flash drive with all sorts of seedy shit. Push comes to shove and soon, bullets start flying, bodies start falling, and Adkins is back to work and doing what he does best - kicking and punching people in the face, dodging gun fire, and SUVs for good measure.

While most of the acting is okay, what keeps Close Range moving are its villains with two of the best performances coming from actor Nick Chinlund, and co-star and fight choreographer Jeremy Marinas who gets a small but distinguishable role leading up to the only one-on-one fight in the film. On that note, the martial arts and action pay off very well from a truly talented team proving beneficial to Florentine who, like a few directors in the last 30 years, have spent years speaking the language better than most filmmakers.

Honestly however, when it comes to drama in a Florentine film, it's usually short-lived before it could fully settle in and give us characters we can wholly identify with. As a result, we're often left with cookie-cutter characters who have very few dimensions to them, and the same goes for this movie with Chinlund and co-star Jake La Botz serving somewhat as mild exceptions.

The climatic scene near the end of the thrid act is a bit of a mess as well, unecessarily drawn out to a good two minutes when it could have been much shorter, and ultimately playing out in way that's become a little too gimmicky. It's not the only time Florentine has used this approach and it has worked in the past, but 27 films later, it's become a little bit exhausting and less forgiveable.

There's not a lot of room for poignance or full character development in Close Range. It's mostly straight forward and fast in most parts that will keep you watching and guessing with fight sequences that never fail, and a few good actors who deliver. On that note, Adkins is still a work in progress while his screenfighting prowess continues to earn him his praise. Round or flat, he gives the fanbase a protagonist worth staying curious about for further consideration, and for what it's worth, I hope that consideration leads to something.

For now, we have Close Range, a film that doesn't really have much room to work with in its script while giving you what it can to present a decent action thriller worthy of a rental or purchase. The action is ample with shootouts and a few car chases. Moreover, Marinas definitely has an actor in him and can sure throw a party together for some of brutal fisticuffs and a few bloodier, stabbier moments. He's got it in him and I hope he gets the career growth he so deserves.

As for the rest of the film, generally, the title says it all and I'm gonna leave it at that.

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