Friday, February 3, 2017

Close Range

   In an age where most modern action stars can only be seen in safe, PG-13, blockbusters- Scott Adkins is out there, cranking out violent hit after violent hit. Even guys like Jason Statham, with both Crank movies to his credit- is most famous for the Transporter trilogy. All of which are PG-13. Even the last Expendables movie was PG-13. I'm getting sick of it. Yet, my man Scott Adkins is absolutely picking up the R rated slack. The quintessential 80's action movie formula is not dead, not while Adkins draws breath. And, if these movies are any indication, he's pretty hard to kill.

   Close Range is an incredibly simple movie. It's plot can be described in one sentence. There are no real twists, no surprises, just Scott Adkins taking on the Mexican drug cartel to protect his sister and his niece. It has a western-like simplicity, recalling some of the more straightforward flicks in Jean Claude Van Damme's filmography. This is not unlike Inferno (a.k.a. Desert Heat) or even Nowhere to Run. It makes sense too, since it seems like JCVD and Adkins are buddies- co-starring in a handful of movies together like Assassination Games, Expendables 2, and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. It truly does seem like JCVD has passed the torch to Adkins, and I'm very okay with that.

   The plot is paper thin, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the story is refreshingly uncomplicated. It's not a cop thriller, or a crime thriller, or a murder mystery. It is just an action movie. It only aims to blow shit up real well, and it accomplishes that with flying colors. Adkins gets a brisk 80-something minute vehicle to showcase his physicality, fight skills, and how cool he looks firing guns. Do you see me complaining here? Sure, the movie is absurd on almost every level, and there's a strange interlude that takes the time to- by name -introduce every single one of the Mexican henchmen villains. The weird scene just goes on and on and on and on... and none of it is relevant in the slightest. It's complete padding.

   Also, every gun fires at least 40 more bullets than it should be able to, and the entire set is swimming in blood and testosterone by the end. It also occurred to me that criticizing these movies for a lack of realistic gun usage is absurd. Action movies are basically modern mythology. They're always about one lone hero, against the odds, featuring incredible sacrifice and red-blooded macho heroics. Who cares if it plays like a video game with the cheat codes on? These movies are just engineered to entertain by doling out the maximum amount of violence and carnage in the limited time they have. As the plot moves from point A to point B, there better be a body count in the double digits racking up in there.

   Close Range is my favorite kind of movie. It's a balls-to-the-wall showcase of the star's superior fighting skills, and a demo reel for a demolitions team. It's straight gun porn. Scott Adkins gets a handful of hand-to-hand fight scenes, and each one is absolutely stunning. The camera loves this guy, and even moreso when he's unleashing a beatdown on the bad guys. The choreography is insanely good. It's nothing more than a pleasant bonus with a movie like this if I can also say that the acting was good, and in Close Range- it is. Though one would have to be a truly godawful actor to seem stiff or lost in a flick like this. The one truly amazing thing about this movie is how I was able to write five full paragraphs about it.

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