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Close to the Enemy

Score: 79%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Acorn Media
Region: A
Media: Blu-ray/3
Running Time: 435 Mins.
Genre: Drama/Historical/Espionage
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH


  • Behind the Scenes Featurettes
    • A Conversation with Stephen Poliakoff
    • Meet the Enemy
    • Recreating the World
    • The Hotel Guests
    • Music & Dance
  • Cast Interview
    • Alexsandar Jovanovic
    • Angela Bassett
    • August Diehl
    • Charity Wakefield
    • Charlotte Riley
    • Freddie Highmore
    • Jim Sturgess
    • Lindsay Duncan
    • Phoebe Fox
    • Sebastian Armesto
  • Photo Gallery

Close to the Enemy is a character-driven drama that takes place as WWII has just ended and the Cold War is kicking into gear. The story involves a host of different characters that all connect, in some way or another, to Captain Callum Ferguson (Jim Sturgess, Across the Universe, 21). He is a member of T-Force, an arm of the Royal Air Force tasked with convincing a German engineer named Dieter (August Diehl) to help them finish the jet engine so that Britain can be the first to break the sound barrier and be more prepared for the next war. This was the beginning of the Cold War and Britain, America, and Russia were snapping up Germans who could be of any help, whether in industry, science or espionage, from off the streets and from their very beds, as was the case with Dieter and his young daughter, Lotte (Lucy Ward).

Needless to say, Dieter isn't inclined to be very cooperative with his captors, but T-Force has set up in the Connington Hotel in an attempt to make things more pleasant. Cal's T-Force liaison at the hotel is Ringwood (Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones) and there are many unusual residents at the hotel, including aspiring actress Julia (Charity Wakefield), the resident jazz band led by Eva (Angela Bassett), an American ex-pat with Socialist leanings, along with other Germans of importance being held by either T-Force or MI19. Harold Lindsay-Jones from the Foreign Service Department (Alfred Molina) hangs around the hotel, attempting to befriend Cal and eventually becomes involved in both Cal's life and that of his younger brother, the impetuous Victor (Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel, The Spiderwick Chronicles), who suffers from damage from the war, as well as previous mental issues. Cal's dear friend, Alex Lombard (Sebastian Armesto) has also recently returned to London, after having spent the war seconded to Washington, and with him he brings his lovely new wife Rachel (Charlotte Riley, World Without End), an American heiress and former widow. Lastly, there's Kathy Griffiths (Phoebe Fox) from the small, mostly female, and terribly undervalued War Crimes Unit, a constant thorn in the side of Cal's superior, Brigadier Wainwright (Robert Glenister). While Wainwright, and hence Cal, are trying to coddle the Germans into working for them with promises of a new life and immunity, Kathy and her team simply want them to go on trial in Nuremberg to pay for their war crimes.

At first, Dieter is resistant to any of Cal's techniques, but eventually he gets down to the task at hand making huge progress on the jet, and actually forging a friendship with Cal, who is also a fellow engineer. In the meantime, Cal must also deal with his volatile brother and Kathy Griffith's tenacity, and frighteningly enough, Kathy and Victor eventually find themselves teaming up with explosive results. As if that weren't enough, Rachel is bored since Alex works constantly, so he suggests she spend time with dashing Cal to entertain herself, which she does, but probably not in the way Alex would have liked. When Cal's plate is just about full, Harold approaches him as a friend to obtain some secret documents from the Foreign Office that could shine a terrible light on high-ranking members regarding decisions they made pertaining to Hitler before the war. Oh, and in case that weren't enough, he has MI19 breathing down his neck and threatening him and his brother, plus an elderly and severe Englishwoman, Frau Bellinghausen (Lindsay Duncan), who was married to a German and holds the secret formula to a special perfume, is placed under Cal's watch and he is tasked with obliging her every whim and obtaining the formula. You know, because he has nothing else to do.

As Cal attempts to juggle his life, family, and job, he makes some startling discoveries that alter the way he sees the work he has been doing and cause him to take drastic action, especially when he finds lines getting blurred and himself getting too Close to the Enemy.

I enjoyed Close to the Enemy, but honestly found it too long and drawn out for its own good. The acting was decent and there were some thrilling moments, but it just took way too long to tell the story and, therefore, it lagged at times and grew boring. I am a sucker for anything WWII-related, so this mini-series should have been right up my alley, but there were so many characters, and new ones even being introduced in the last two episodes, which I found strange. It was almost as if there was more clutter thrown in for no good reason. I did learn some things that I didn't previously know about the war and the time right after it, but I just feel the story could have been much tighter and told in fewer episodes. There are a number of featurettes on different aspects such as characters, the location and the music of the series, and there are also short interviews with all of the major actors, although be aware that there is some repeat between the featurettes and the interviews.

Close to the Enemy tells an interesting tale and one worth seeing, it just takes too long to tell it. However, if you are a fan of WWII and the Cold War, you'll probably enjoy it. You just may want to watch it over the course of a week or so, since it isn't really binge-worthy material.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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