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One Movie Punch

Jan 22, 2019

Hi everyone!

We’re back with another Netflix Original, this time an espionage thriller in collaboration with the United Kingdom. For a few other espionage-related Netflix Originals, check out “Forgotten” (Episode #062), “The Outsider” (Episode #069), “Steel Rain” (Episode #087), “Sun Dogs” (Episode #107), and “Anon” (Episode #125). Got any suggestions? Reach out over social media or contact us at

And now...

Today’s movie is “Close” (2019), the Netflix Original thriller directed by Vicky Jewson, and written for the screen in collaboration with Rupert Whitaker. The film follows Sam (Noomi Rapace), a counter-terrorism expert assigned as a bodyguard to Zoe (Sophie Nélisse), a rich young heiress. While on assignment, a violent kidnapping requires the two to work together to survive while on the run.

No spoilers!

I always struggle a little bit with espionage thrillers, especially those involving so-called private contractors, or in standard prose, mercenaries. I used to gobble up espionage stories, whether on the screen or in print or even on the news. However, once you realize the lack of accountability for private contractors, it’s hard to find any of them likable, even if they feel they’re doing a great service for their client or their country or maybe the world. Which is why today’s film was a nice change of pace, and a look into the world of a female mercenary, and how that might be different. Or might not.

Noomi Rapace is the only standout performance in “Close”, at least in a good way. Her breakout role as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish films and television show brought here to the forefront of the international film scene, which made her a good choice for today’s film. I just wish the other performances in the film were as well done. Sophie Nélisse’s portrayal of Zoe is forced, not really capturing the heiress to sidekick story arc that’s intended as they work to figure out what’s going on. Indira Varma’s portrayal as Rima Hassine, Zoe’s stepmother lacks consistency, probably in an attempt to make the two head-fake story twists seem more believable. 

Now, I was a huge fan of the film being set in Casablanca, making good use of the entire city to tell the story, up to and including the red taxis. The close-quarters action has its moments, especially involving Rapace, who can pistol-whip like it’s nobody’s business. However, the larger, internal conflicts of Sam’s character get short shrift, usually in a bid to shore up the lackluster performances around her. I would love to see more films with Sam’s character, but could honestly care less about everyone else involved. 

“Close” (2019) is a female-led espionage thriller, starring Noomi Rapace in a believable, quality role, surrounded by a mostly lackluster cast. While the film does have some great moments, it also tends to drag too much. Fans of espionage films, or Noomi Rapace, should definitely check out the film, but beware you might not enjoy the whole ride. Rapace sure didn’t.

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%

Metacritic: 57

One Movie Punch: 6.4/10

“Close” (2019) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.