'Close Range': Film Review

Courtesy of XLrator Media
Subtlety is hardly the point.

Director Isaac Florentine delivers another efficient actioner starring British martial arts expert Scott Adkins.

Low-budget action maestro Isaac Florentine, with more than a half-dozen genre titles already under his belt, wades back into the fray with Close Range, a contemporary commentary on the havoc perpetrated by Mexican drug cartels. With an even higher kill ratio than most 007 movies, albeit on a far more modest scale, the film looks likely to capture a modest audience of young male thrill-seekers both in theaters and on digital platforms.

Florentine leaps right into the thick of things, introducing taciturn Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins), who’s been on the run since going AWOL from his Army unit in Iraq, making his way back to the U.S. and surviving below the law enforcement radar as a lethal gun for hire. When a ruthless Mexican drug cartel kidnaps his niece Hailey (Madison Lawlor) to ransom back stolen product from her double-dealing stepfather, Walt (Jake La Botz), he’s forced out of hiding in a bid to rescue her. Penetrating the gang’s safe house in Nogales, he dispatches a half-dozen thugs while extracting Hailey so they can return to his sister Angie’s (Caitlin Keats) Arizona ranch, where Walt has been running drugs across the border for the cartel.

Gang boss Garcia (Tony Perez) is out for revenge and eager to retrieve the USB drive that MacReady has stolen, since it contains details on his multifarious illegal activities, so he calls on corrupt Sheriff Jasper Calloway (Nick Chinlund) to corner the ex-soldier on the ranch until he can arrive with his cohorts to sort out the situation. Calloway gets more than he bargained for when MacReady takes out two of his deputies and flees, only to circle back to the ranch when Garcia and his foot soldiers arrive, taking Hailey hostage again, along with her mom. Outmanned and out-gunned, MacReady will need all his considerable skill to reunite his makeshift family and elude the narco-terrorists.  

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Building on a string of B-movie action titles like Assassin’s Bullet and Ninja, martial arts veteran Florentine doesn’t need any schooling on running an efficient and energetic production. Setting most of the film on a secluded Southwestern ranch, he’s able to confine almost all the action to a single sprawling location where MacReady and his gangland pursuers can shred one another with enough weapons and ammo to start a small war.

Reteaming with Florentine following several previous collaborations, British MMA expert Adkins single-handedly takes on both the lawmen and the cartel goons, easily swapping fists and kicks for a wide array of semi-automatic weapons as he mows through a dozen or more baddies. Leaning heavily on frequent exposition to fill in narrative gaps, screenwriters Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor string together a sufficiently plausible plot between the fight scenes and gun battles to maintain believability, although characterizations are broadly stereotypical across the board, with the women unsurprisingly receiving particularly short shrift.

Production companies: Bleiberg Entertainment, Compound B

Distributor: XLrator Media

Cast: Scott Adkins, Nick Chinlund, Caitlin Keats, Madison Lawlor, Tony Perez, Jake La Botz

Director: Isaac Florentine

Screenwriters: Chad Law, Shane Dax Taylor

Producer: Ehud Bleiberg

Executive producers: Nicholas Donnermeyer, Scott Adkins

Director of photography: Tal Lazar

Production designer: Michael Levinson

Costume designer: Erin Citti

Editor: Irit Raz

Music: Stephen Edwards

Casting: Shannon Makhania

Not Rated, 85 minutes