A small plane has crashed somewhere above the U.S. / Canadian border and some badass Canadian Mounties have descended upon a DEA or ICE installation or something or another to get some info on this planes whereabouts. I can't remember what law enforcement agency these dudes were actually from, and it matters very little since they are all gonna be dead in a minute anyway. The leader of these fake Mounties looks insane, has a wild head of red hair, the face of somebody in his mid sixties but the body of someone in much younger. This character, Xander, is played by Jean-Claude Van Damme and while this movie 'Enemies Closer' is about as rote and run of the mill as an action film can get, JCVD's completely off the chain performance almost justifies this nonsense as a must see. Almost.
This little island is actually a small tourist attraction headed up by Henry the local security guard (Tom Everett Scott), one of only two residents on this island. Henry is being closely observed by a semi-dangerous looking dude, or at least as dangerous as actor Orlando Jones can look, named Clay, and Clay seems to have it out for Henry. Clay completely cockblocks Henry who had got invited to a dinner by a very pretty hiker girl (Linzey Cocker) he rescued, who was super insistent on paying Henry back, via dinner and whatever that leads to, for helping her out. Turns out Clay holds Henry responsible for something bad that Super Special Forces ex-Badass Henry did some years ago, something Henry himself is very sad about.
So after a spirited fight between the ex special forces SEAL badass and the ex-con who informed us he's been 'practicing', one in which the practicing ex-con beats the ass of the ex-special forces SEAL badass, the ex-con takes him out the woods to execute him. But unfortunately the two of them stumble upon Xander and his crew of murderous miscreants who then open fire on our two eventual heroes.
Now we have a situation in which the two enemies must become… I guess… closer and try to survive the onslaught of Xander and his crew of poorly trained mercenaries who obviously haven't been practicing. Xander's been practicing… for real… but his crew, not so much. Things are just a little more complicated because Xander needs somebody to dive to the bottom of this lake to retrieve a special package that was on that downed plane, and as it so happens, Xander's diving dude won't be able to complete this task. Did we mention that Henry was a SEAL? How fortuitous for Xander.
Anyway, a big fist fight is looming between the Special Forces Seal Badass, the practicing ex-con, the crazed vegan fake Mountie and a hooker. It's complicated. That hooker is pretty badass though.
'Enemies Closer' was directed by my main man Peter Hyams who has helmed some movies back in the day that I have absolutely loved, such as 'The Relic', 'The Presidio', Van Damme's own 'Time Cop' and 'Narrow Margin', a personal favorite. Admittedly, the most recent of those movies I just listed off is close to twenty years old, but sill, Peter Hyams is my guy. Unfortunately 'Enemies Closer' will not be on that short list of favorites, not that there's anything inherently wrong with 'Enemies Closer' other than its generic. Now Mr. Hyams has a son that directs named John, and this movie did feel closer to one of John Hyams films than a Peter Hyams film, considering the Bulgarian location, the heavy reliance of close quarters fist to cuffs, the thin narrative and the relatively meager budget, which may explain why certain parts of this film were so lackluster.
And by 'lackluster' we mean scenes where Mr. Van Damme wasn't on the screen. Just like Jean Claude was the best thing about 'The Expendables 2', at least in my opinion, his manic, crazed, over the top performance was the best thing in this movie as well. Obviously stealing an Expendables movie is way more difficult than stealing this one, which to be honest is like taking candy from a baby, nothing but mad love for Orlando Jones and Tom Everett Scott, but the fact remains that Van Damme made this movie worth watching. Plus he got to speak French in this movie, and ever since JCVD I've come to the conclusion that Van Damme is actually a pretty good actor when he gets to speak in his native language as opposed to struggling with English. One could argue that considering JCVD has spent the last thirty years in this country he should be a little be better at this English thing, but we're not the ones making that argument. Luc Besson should cast him in some French action movie or something.
Run of the mill action yarn punctuated with Jean Claude Van Damme continuing his great renaissance. God Bless Jean Claude Van Damme.