Van Damme does Bad so Good
On an island on the Canadian/ American border lives Henry (Tom Everett Scott), a Forest ranger but also an Ex-Navy SEAL, enjoying the quiet life of being the island's guardian whilst acting as tour guide to visitors. But things get less laid back for Henry when Clay (Orlando Jones) arrives on the island with a grudge he wants to settle. But these two are going to have to put their differences aside and work together as a drugs cartel lead by Xander (Jean-Claude Van Damme) are looking for some drugs which have fallen on to the island.
All those who watched "Cliffhanger" will spot the similarity with "Enemies Closer" already, two guys with a grudge forced to put their differences to one side when some vicious criminals end up in their neck of the woods. But whilst we have the mountains swapped out for an island on the Canadian/American border the familiarity of the storyline is not a problem, in fact the basic set up is solid enough for this sort of action movie which is really more about two things; the excitement and the bad guys.
Now the excitement; well those who know their movies will recognize director Peter Hyams name as alongside movies such as "Capricorn One" and "Hanover Street" he has also directed actioners like "Outland", "Sudden Death" and "End of Days". And Hyams does a good job with what he has to work with here creating an exciting atmosphere but also delivering the action. Yes the dialogue is bad in places and the casting of Tom Everett Scott as a former SEAL takes some suspension of belief but still Hyams makes "Enemies Closer" entertaining with great action punctuating the story.
Now I mentioned Tom Everett Scott who seems at times to be playing Henry as some sort of Dudley Do-Right, a bit of a joke but a good guy, but it doesn't quite work as Scott as an action hero doesn't quite work. Orlando Jones as Clay is a bit more convincing as he brings more aggression to his role but still it is not quite right. But thankfully there is Jean-Claude Van Damme delivering a wonderfully over the top bad guy performance which is simply amusing from being a vegan baddy to the wild blonde hair and craggy features combined with large eyes making him almost clown like, a seriously unhinged clown like baddy. If it wasn't for Van Damme "Enemies Closer" would probably end up forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "Enemies Closer" isn't a great movie and has some very noticeable issues but it still is a lot of fun for action fans. Most of that comes down to the combination of director Peter Hyams knowing what he is doing and Jean-Claude Van Damme delivering a perfectly over the top bad guy.