Blu-ray Review: Close to the Enemy



As the smoke settled at the end of World War II in Europe, the Allies quickly worked against each other looting the true treasures of Nazi Germany. It wasn’t gold, Swiss Francs or national treasures plundered by the Russians and Americans in the early days of the Cold War. Both sides were doing their best to grab Nazi scientists that worked on weapons development especially aircraft and rockets. The US had scored big when it grabbed Wernher von Braun, the inventor of the V-2 rocket to become a driving force at NASA with numerous of his ex-Nazi scientists. Russia also had their prized scientists. Close to the Enemy deals with England’s attempt to “recruit” their own Nazi Scientist.

Dieter Koehler (Inglourious Basterds‘ August Diehl) and his daughter (Lucy Ward) are brought to London after the English troops pick him up in Germany. Captain Cal Ferguson (Across the Universe‘s Jim Sturgess) is placed in charge of getting Koehler to agree to work on the England’s jet engine project. Unlike the Soviets who could just grab scientists and keep them as prisoners behind the iron curtain, England has to wine and dine their prospects. They also have to keep them underwraps for the fear that Soviet agents would kidnap them. To complicate things further for Ferguson’s recruitment task is a Koehler’s daughter is not thrilled at the prospect of spending her life in England instead of Germany. The 8 episode mini-series isn’t just about the negotiation. There’s a lot more going on at the remote hotel where Ferguson takes Koehler for a relaxing yet intense negotiation to get him to embrace England and share his scientific knowledge. Among other people they encounter in the hotel is Eva (American Horror Story‘s Angela Bassett), an American singer ready to put on a show. The mysterious Harold Lindsay-Jones (Prick Up Your Ears‘ Alfred Molina) seems to know more about what’s happening that Ferguson can dig up. Ferguson gets more confusion courtesy of an ex-lover and his brother.

Close to the Enemy is an intense hotel experience. There’s quite a bit of seen and unseen danger as Ferguson attempts what should be a simple mission compared to behind enemy lines action. The biggest form of jeopardy comes with the daughter constantly wanting to get away from the hotel. In the end, will the Soviets grab her to use as leverage to make Koehler agree to work with his old pals that are working for the commies. There’s also the constant threat that Koehler might get nabbed for being a part of a war crime. Nothing is easy in the resort stay. This is an intriguing drama where the intrigue is more than just a military action.

The videos is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the bleak bombed out spaces around the hotel. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The mix brings out the atmospheric sounds.

Behind the Scenes (29:40) has writer/director Stephen Poliakoff explain what drew him to this time in history when the rocket race involved snagging German scientists at the end of World War II. The production had an issue recreating raved parts of Liverpool since bombing damage has been repaired over the decades.

Cast Interviews (27:54) has all the main actors discussing their characters and how they researched the times.

Photo Gallery (1:21) are promotional photos and behind the scenes snapshots.

Acorn Media presents Close to the Enemy. Directed by: Stephen Poliakoff. Screenplay by: Stephen Poliakoff. Starring: August Diehl, Angela Bassett and Alfred Molina. Boxset Contents: 8 episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs. Released: December 27, 2016.

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