Australian’s are taught, from early on, about the significant contributions made by soldiers during war. From the ANZACs to the soldiers currently in the Middle East, our education on the perils of war instils an impassioned respect to military personnel that is etched deep into the Australian consciousness.
It is because of this deep-seated appreciation towards the sacrifices made by members of the defence force, and those of their families, that makes it easy for Australian viewers to connect with films that show Diggers on-screen.
Despite being a respectful take on events that occurred during the Vietnam War, Danger Close delivers a misfire attempt of a war movie that renders more as a conflicted film than it does a film about conflict. It is let down by a plot that fails to engage outside of sporadic bouts of gunfire, scenes that feel derived from Americana, and references to other war films that make it difficult to distinguish whether the film is paying homage or being derivative.
Filmmaking gets in the way of Danger Closer telling an earnest story, with efforts made to deliver an emotional payoff at the end resulting in rushed character development. While it would be sensical to attribute this growth to the hardships of, it feels more of an attempt for Danger Close to display catharsis thanks to an already existing establishment of characters owing their hardened demeanours to their previous military experience.
Despite having noble intentions to honour those involved in the Battle of Long Tan, the contrived dialogue spoken in Danger Close draws out wooden performances from the young principal-cast. Themes of ‘Mateship’ to convey the innocence of war and the closeness between soldiers is handled so forcibly that it reads more as propaganda for patriotism than it does authentic.
Danger Close is most certainly a stylish film but often feels like an exercise by director Kriv Stenders (who directed both Red Dog films) to deliver striking visuals than it does serve a consistent look and feel. Only when Stenders resists the temptation to complicate the visuals does he prove himself capable of placing the viewer right into the distressing silence of battle; delivering an intense experience that feels like a finger pressed down a spine.
Respectful, but ultimately undone by its attempts to be more, Danger Close is an uninspired war movie that struggles to be compelling.
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan screens nationally across Australia from 8 August 2019. For more information, visit: www.transmissionfilms.com.au for details.
Image: Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (film still) – courtesy of Transmission Films
Review: Hagan Osborne