You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Danger Close’

A familiar but effective fact-based Vietnam War drama about an undermanned company of Australian and New Zealand soldiers under attack.

Kriv Stenders
Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Daniel Webber, Alexander England, Aaron Glenane, Nicholas Hamilton, Myles Pollard, Matt Doran, Anthony Hayes, Richard Roxburgh.
Release Date:
Nov 8, 2019

Rated R  Running time: 118 MIN.

Official Site: https://www.dangerclosemovie.com/

By turns viscerally exciting and predictably formulaic — and, quite often, both at once — “Danger Close” is an efficiently crafted and consistently involving old-school war movie propelled by matter-of-fact professionalism on both sides of the cameras.

Working from a sturdily constructed screenplay credited to Stuart Beattie, James Nicholas, Karel Segers, Paul Sullivan and Jack Brislee, director Kriv Stenders (“Red Dog,” “Kill Me Three Times”) does a fine job of ratcheting up suspense and maintaining a propulsive sense of narrative order as he cuts between various locations and perspectives while recounting the Battle of Long Tan, a 1966 Vietnam War clash that pitted a vastly outnumbered Delta Company of inexperienced Australian and New Zealand troops — most of them 19 to 21 years old — against more than 2,000 battle-hardened Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers.

To be sure, not every perspective is given equal weight. (The Vietnamese fighters, for all their resiliency and formidability, remain little more than faceless abstractions.) But Stenders and his cast do make it relatively easy to discern cause and effect as the battle rages on and near an isolated rubber plantation, and to comprehend the rapid-fire explanation and execution of military tactics while the movie hops back and forth between soldiers pinned down by persistent enemy fire, officers debating drastic measures back at home base, and the crews of fighter jets, artillery units, and armored support vehicles intent on providing support for the besieged D Company.

The chief focus is the edgy relationship between Major Harry Smith (Travis Fimmel), a former Special Forces commando who bitterly resents his new assignment as D Company commander, which he disdainfully describes as “breast-feeding a bunch of kids,” and Paul Large (Daniel Webber), a brash young private who broadcasts his insolence in an early scene by brazenly guzzling beer during a VC attack on their base. (“If your number’s up,” he explains to a gobsmacked fellow soldier, “you might as well get a buzz on.”)

Popular on Variety

To say these men are initially antagonistic would be an understatement: After briefly taunting the private with what sounds awfully like Joe Pesci’s intimidating “How am I funny?” query, Large grabs his throat and nearly chokes him. Later, Large is equally brutal in his reaction when he assumes Smith’s order for artillery support caused the deaths of other men.

In the time-tested tradition of war movies, however, Smith and Large become, if not best buddies, then mutually respectful brothers-in-arms. More important, though, is the persuasive manner in which they and other men repeatedly display courage under fire during the several firefights that director Stenders infuses (with crackerjack assistance from cinematographer Ben Nott and Veronika Jenet) with compelling immediacy and jolting chaos. Especially impressive are the skirmishes that occur driving rainstorms — a detail, by the way, that reflects the particulars of the real-life Battle of Long Tan. (The movie was shot on Queensland locations that more than adequately double for South Vietnam.)

Stenders clearly studied previous Vietnam War movies for inspiration. (Rest assured, Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” pops up on the soundtrack to establish the ’60s period.) Indeed, it’s equally obvious that Stenders and his screenwriters reviewed war movies from all eras. When a character here starts to talk about his desire to do nothing more than “go home, get married, and forget all this,” well, all he needs is a bull’s-eye painted on his chest to further signal his fate.

But never mind: “Danger Close” emerges as something greater, or at least more potently sincere, than the sum of its second-hand parts. Favorable word of mouth could help it enjoy an extended shelf life on streaming platforms long after it retreats from limited theatrical play.

Film Review: ‘Danger Close’

Reviewed online, Houston, Nov. 7, 2018. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 118 MIN.

Production: (Australia) A Saban Films release of a Screen Queensland, Screen Australia, Saboteur Media presentation, in association with Sunjive Studios, THN Nominees, of a Red Dune Films, Deeper Water Films, Hoosegow production, in association with Ingenious Media. Producers: Martin Walsh, John Schwarz, Michael Schwarz, Stuart Beattie, Tony N. Noun, Silvio Salom, Andrew Mann. Executive producers: Justin Boylson, Anton Rosenberg, Dennis Karp, Jimmy Costas, Joe Simpson, John Jencks, Jay Taylor, Charles Dombek, Alastair Burlingham, Veronica Sive, Meyer Shwarzstein, Charles Hannah, Peter Wetherell, Simon Williams, Anders Erden, George Lee, Marcus Englefield, Michael Burton, Marcus Bolton, Nick Quested, David Kennedy.

Crew: Director: Kriv Stenders. Screenplay: Stuart Beattie, James Nicholas, Karel Segers, Paul Sullivan, Jack Brislee. Camera (color): Ben Nott. Editor: Veronika Jenet. Music: Caitlin Yeo.

With: Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Daniel Webber, Alexander England, Aaron Glenane, Nicholas Hamilton, Myles Pollard, Matt Doran, Anthony Hayes, Richard Roxburgh.

More Film

  • Morgan Freeman Lori McCreary Gary Lucchesi

    Film News Roundup: Morgan Freeman's Revelations Teams With Gary Lucchesi for Production Venture

    In today’s film news roundup, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Gary Lucchesi are teaming up; Zolee Griggs, Sara Rue and Ed Quinn are cast; and “Clementine” finds a home. JOINT VENTURE Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment is teaming with former Lakeshore Entertainment president Gary Lucchesi for a joint production venture. Lucchesi will develop [...]

  • 'When Lambs Become Lions' Review: A

    Film Review: 'When Lambs Become Lions'

    “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” says Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised statement, shortly before several vast hauls of severed elephant tusks — ornately piled like sacred shrines — is ceremoniously set ablaze. It’s a confiscated collection that, Kenyatta tells his audience, is worth $150 million, literally going [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Live Nation Productions Boards Danny Clinch-Helmed Blind Melon Doc 'All I Can Say'

    Live Nation Productions and Double E Entertainment have signed on as executive producers of “All I Can Say,” the documentary film featuring footage shot entirely by the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. The film’s title is taken from the opening lines of Blind Melon’s instantly recognizable 1993 smash, “No Rain.” Culled from Hoon’s archives, the [...]

  • Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers

    How Mr. Rogers Influenced the Pacing of 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

    Fred Rogers was an icon to many. Everyone who met him and knew him says, “He really was like that.” He spoke in a soft voice and he was kind. He believed in doing good to others. He spoke to children in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in a soft voice, helping them to process complicated emotions [...]

  • Dowdle Brothers

    The Dowdle Brothers Tackle New 'Friday Night Lights' Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Erick and Drew Dowdle, aka the Dowdle brothers, have boarded Universal Pictures’ reimagining of “Friday Night Lights.” Both will do a polish on the script, with John Erick directing and Drew exec producing. Sources tell Variety that the movie is not a sequel to Universal’s 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, nor is it [...]

  • Roman Polanski's Accuser Reached Out to

    Roman Polanski's New Accuser Reached Out to L.A. Prosecutors in Early 2017

    Valentine Monnier, the former actor who recently went public with her accusation that Roman Polanski raped her 44 years ago, sent an anonymous letter to L.A. prosecutors in early 2017 detailing those allegations, sources tell Variety. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it received such a letter in February 2017 and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content