It doesn't take much more than a look at the plot summary for NEAR ENEMIES and you can tell this film is on the far fetched side. Sure, not every WWII movie needs to be docudrama level, but some of the artistic licenses for story taken here are too implausible and silly that they take you out of the movie. While you can give writer/director Fredianelli credit for writing a WWII movie of the scale actually filmable on a microbudget entirely in Northern California (and during a pandemic no less), it doesn't erase the fact that the script plays out like some sort of bad WWII historical fan-fiction. Central to the plot is a group of renegade Japanese-Americans who escaped from a California internment camp and set up a prison camp of their own for American hostages. Actual probability of such a successful escape happening aside, this is a bit of a blow when you consider the actual (and non-nefarious) history of Japanese-Americans during the war (some of which were allowed to leave the camps on the west coast to do so) serving in the US military stateside and in Europe with one such unit becoming the most decorated American unit of the war. But the internment camp escape isn't the weirdest thing about this movie as it also has some odd fixation on being a Vietnam War movie, but set during WWII. As such, these aforementioned escaped internee Japanese-Americans sport the uncanny ability to be experts in Vietcong style DIY weapons and tactics. Hell, the film is so on-the-nose that to further drive home the random Vietnam parallels, two of these Japanese-American characters are even named Victor and Charlie! It's truly laughable and the US Army commanding officer tasked with the mission to quell the escapees' plot has a habit of shouting out things like "Let's get Charlie!" or "We've got Charlie on the run now!" that almost make you think you're watching a Vietnam movie, but with the wrong costumes and weaponry. Furthermore, the movie isn't very well researched with other bits of shoddy dialogue like when an Army officer references missile strikes (as if to imply they were as common as artillery strikes or bombings raids in WWII when missiles as we know them today were still in their infancy and would have most likely been referred to at the time as "flying bombs" or "rockets"). Meanwhile, this same officer wrongly refers to the main enlisted men on a mission in this movie as "mercenaries" like he doesn't even know the meaning of the word. The last bit of plot points you'll find in the online summary relates to a mysterious experimental brainwashing program employed by the US Army. While this element of the story is plenty pulpy, the whole premise of the program doesn't make a whole bunch of sense even as we learn more about it as the movie progresses. It's somewhat contradictory and unnecessary given the way it works even if it does generate some intriguing dramatic tension.
Despite the weak story elements, there's still plenty to praise about NEAR ENEMIES as it is very well made especially when you consider that it's a budget indie film. The filmmakers clearly go through the effort of making the movie look period and even secure a WWII era tugboat and battle tank to fit into the plot. In addition, the film is very consistently well acted and the two leads (a stoic, purposefully robotic fighting machine named Hansen and a hard assed (and asshole) commanding officer Davies are particularly well realized by the actors). Furthermore, the action scenes are all thrilling and effective and despite feeling out of place as mentioned, the movie's most Vietnam-esque scene is probably the most well realized of its set pieces. Overall, you could do a lot worse than NEAR ENEMIES for entertainment and production value, but the poor script choices keep it from being a truly good movie.