Enemies Closer is the first collaboration between Peter Hyams and Jean-Claude Van Damme since 1995’s Sudden Death. The reunion feels long overdue.
Van Damme showed himself to be the most versatile and introspective of action stars in the self-reflexive JCVD, and as an eco-friendly drug-runner who calls guns “bad for the environment” and stops to admire a rare kind of strawberry while hunting down an ex-military park ranger (Tom Everett Scott), he’s as vibrant as ever.
Along with Orlando Jones, an aggrieved x-factor who’s got a bone of his own to pick with Scott, the three make for a surprisingly formidable trio. Enemies Closer captures the feel of action flicks of yore — unsurprising, given that some of them were directed by Hyams himself — in a way that only limited-release and straight-to-video titles seem allowed to these days (aside from the latest Riddick, that is).
Its fight sequences are muscular and intuitive, with heavy emphasis on everyday items (CDs, tree branches, what have you) as implements of violence; gunfights are rare, and the setting — a small island near the U.S.-Canadian border that’s all but uninhabited at night — lends itself well to such inventive means of offing one’s opponents. It also enlivens the proceedings with a barebones, even survivalist vibe.