Close Range (2015)

Close Range DVD CoverClose Range is a welcome action movie reaffirmation of the values we hold so dear in this great country. Namely that despite what all freedom-hating globalists would have you believe, one of our war veteran killing machines is still infinitely more deadly than an entire army of professional Mexican cartel assassins!

How can any real American not be giddy when El Jefe leads three SUV loads of drug running scum across the border to the MacReady place in search of revenge and one of those only-in-the movies flash drives whose only reason to exist seems to be so it can be stolen? Colt MacReady is already in a bad mood because his sister looked the other way when her dirtbag husband double crossed the cartel resulting in Colt’s niece being kidnapped. If he’s so surly that he has no trouble blaming and shaming his sister, how many cartel soldiers are going to be shot, stabbed and have their neck snapped? Spoiler: all of them! Several times!

After an opening murderous rampage to rescue his niece in Mexico that most action movies not starting Scott Atkins and not directed by Isaac Florentine (they previously teamed for the very solid action flicks Ninja and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear) would be satisfied with as a climax, Colt returns to his family’s Arizona ranch where he can really unleash his scowling and humorless brand of hyper aggression. (He’s got no time for sassy action hero quips, responding to one villain’s complaint that Colt killed his brother saying, “Yeah? And I’m going to kill you, you little bitch. Let’s go.” Compared to Colt, Dirty Harry is Noël Coward.)

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Colt is no dummy and he knows that ghosting half the cartel down in Mexico is going to bring holy hell down on them so he gets his sister and niece to pack up and ready to leave. Before they can leave though the local crooked sheriff shows up. He’s got orders from El Jefe to find MacReady and hold him until the cartel can get there.

But if Colt is the best the military ever had and beat down a superior officer because he refused to follow an order that would dishonor him and the uniform he wore and is a now a fugitive anyway, is one dirty cop who is desperately trying to channel every corrupt authority figure Charles Napier ever played going to bring him in? Or is Colt going to spend the middle part of the movie in the countryside running here and there and kicking guys in the head?

It is here where Florentine shows why his low budget (there’s what – three locations in this movie?) fighting epics are so much better than the generically awful stuff like the recent Gary Daniels movie Misfire or anything Steven Seagal has been in since about 2003. When Colt’s on foot and being pursued by the cartel guys driving an SUV, what does he do? He turns around and freaking runs at it while shooting the whole time, charging over the top of it and landing unharmed on the other side.

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I guess that’s kind of awesome. Except that when the SUV attempts to run him down again and his gun jams, he just runs up a hill, jumps back onto the hood, and kicks the windshield in before shooting the driver. But yeah, those “action” scenes where Seagal gets winded slapping some dude are good in their own way, too. Like if you have a kindergartner you’re trying to break into action movies and you don’t want him to get overwhelmed.

The third act sees Colt returning to the house (it shouldn’t have been a surprise to El Jefe since Colt’s sister told him snidely that Colt was coming back to kill them all, no doubt spoiling Colt’s top secret plan) and the cartel lays siege to it in a lengthy gun battle that likely was causing the MacReady’s home owner’s insurance agent to have an aneurysm.

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There are no surprises in Close Range, no depth to the main characters (besides the vague veteran backstory of Colt, all we know about him is the pointless information that years ago he saved the sheriff when the sheriff drunk drove into a pond), almost all the rest of the characters are literally reduced to just a name on the screen (there’s actually a scene where the name of each cartel member is onscreen when they are driving to the MacReady ranch), the opening credits bizarrely use highlights of the parts of the movie that haven’t happened yet and the ending scene between Colt and the sheriff goes on so ridiculously long, you half expect everyone waiting for the sheriff to make his life or death decision to get tired of waiting and walk off out of sheer impatience.

Still, the film manages to do what most of these straight-to-video actioners frustratingly so often fail to do – deliver the damn action! There is a grim intensity to Atkins during the energetic and entertainingly shot fight scenes. Florentine and Atkins are wise to vary things between guns, knives, feet and fists, indoors and outdoors and even in the food pantry while expertly shifting the violence in and out of dramatic slow motion at just the right moments. Close Range doesn’t aim to be more than a mindlessly invigorating 90 minute brawl and it hits that target repeatedly.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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