AKA: Dust Up
Director: Isaac Florentine
Writer: Chad Law, Shane Dax Taylor
Cast: Scott Adkins, Nick Chinlund, Caitlin Keats, Jake La Botz, Tony Perez, Madison Lawlor, Julien Cesario, Jimmy Chhiu, Ray Diaz, Robert Dill, Scott Evans, Umar Khan
Runnging Time: 80 min.
By Zach Nix
Close Range is the latest collaboration between Israeli director Isaac Florentine (Undisputed 3: Redemption) and British action star Scott Adkins (Wolf Warrior). The two have previously worked together on Special Forces, Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, The Shepherd, Ninja, Undisputed 3: Redemption, Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, and now Close Range, their latest direct to video action fest. While the two’s latest actioner is nowhere near as dramatically compelling as some of their previous efforts, the film continues to prove that Florentine directs and photographs action better than most commercial directors.
After Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) rescues his niece from a drug cartel, he unleashes their fury when he accidentally takes a thumb drive containing crucial information about the cartel’s bank accounts and drug dealings. Colton soon finds himself and his sister’s family in danger as corrupt cops and the cartel descend upon their ranch in search of the stolen drive. The tension reaches a boil when Colton faces off against the cartel in order to rescue his captive sister’s family.
There’s no denying that Close Range features a rather simplistic plot to hinge its action packed proceedings upon. Therefore, the film is nowhere near as compelling as previous Florentine and Adkins collaborations that feature more interesting characters and intriguing mythos. However, the film still features the incredible trademark action that the two are known for, and that makes up for any simplicity in the film’s script. After all, many of the direct to video films released in the early to mid 2000s are notorious for their overly complex plots and dull action. Therefore, Close Range is utterly fantastic in contrast to early direct to video efforts.
Unfortunately, Close Range still suffers from a few direct to video trappings that many efforts of its genre succumb too. For example, the names of various locations are typed out on screen and accompanied by a silly digital sound effect. The film also features a baffling instance of on screen text in which every one of lead villain Fernando Garcia’s henchmen has their name typed out next to their face. No offense to Florentine or whoever decided to include these henchmen’s names on screen, but no viewer is likely to remember their names mere seconds later. There is no purpose in typing out the names of Adkin’s cannon fodder, as none of them are substantial characters anyways beyond Garcia or his nephew.
The film also features some mediocre acting, as many low budget action films do, as well as some shoddy stock music. A moment in which the police crash their car into Adkin’s vehicle is accompanied by music that one can hear on old episodes of Fear Factor. Fortunately, these are the only flaws holding down an otherwise non-stop action film.
Close Range is a fun genre effort in which Florentine sets his latest outing with Adkins in a neo-Western setting. The film makes for a fun contemporary Western with its desert ranch setting, plentiful cowboy cats, kidnap/revenge plot, and house face/off. The soundtrack also sports several guitar tunes that further establish the film’s Western genre influences. Florentine is cited on his IMDB page as wanting to become a filmmaker after seeing Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at a young age. In fact, Close Range’s final face off recalls the photography and editing of Leone’s infamous triangle face off, although Florentine’s work is a far cry from Leone’s. That being said, it’s clear that Florentine wanted to pay tribute to the genre that he loves by setting his latest actioner in a contemporary setting with strong Western elements.
Florentine’s eye for action is better than ever in Close Range. He treats audiences to two solid fistfights during the film’s first two acts, as well as some exciting gunplay. However, the pleasure in watching Close Range is reaching its finale in which Adkins goes head to head with the drug cartel on his family ranch in an all out action fest. The action on display in Close Range’s finale is better than many of the final action set pieces of any of this year’s theatrically released action films. Commercial Hollywood directors wish their action films ended as spectacularly as Close Range, a film that doesn’t mess around and gives action fans exactly what they want. The final house face off is filled with memorable kills, brutal brawls, and steady photography and editing that allows the viewer to visually comprehend all of Adkin’s punches and kicks. It’s only a matter of time until Hollywood gets a hold of Florentine and puts him at the helm of a major franchise or studio actioner in order to finally give him the budget and scale that he deserves to work with.
Close Range isn’t as memorable as Florentine and Adkins’ superior genre efforts. However, the film is still a solid action picture and proof that these two are one of action cinema’s greatest director/actor duos currently working today. If one can forgive the wafer thin plot and flat characters, than one will find immense joy in Close Range’s action packed proceedings. It’s a simple genre effort, but a badass one and proof that American action cinema currently reigns in the direct to video market, not on the big screen.
Zach Nix’s Rating: 7/10