Point Blank hits all-speed-ahead from the very beginning. It is unapologetically an action film, with a good dose of thriller elements and high suspense. Made in France under the title Ã€ Bout Portant, the movie is an enjoyable experience with some brilliant performances from some excellent actors who I hope we will see more of in future cinema experiences.
Get out your popcorn and don’t look for meaning, subtext, or symbolism – this is a pure action flick taking influence and structure from some of the most reliable and exciting stories of ages long gone.
Point Blank trails Gilles Lellouche who plays Samuel Pierret, a father-to-be who works as a nurse’s aide in a hospital. When he saves the life of a patient tied up in an organized criminal action, Pierret is dragged into a no-win state of affairs where his pregnant wife is kidnapped, and he is forced to make some tough decisions that place him on the wrong side of the law. And, also, in partnership with the criminal he saved, Hugo Sartet, played by Roschdy Zem.
However the situation veers further out of control as Pierret and Sartet discover that a syndicate of bad cops are involved in the racket; action involving murder, theft, conspiracy, and betrayal. Not only do they find themselves opposed to bad guys, but bad guys who happen to wear official Police armbands. The movie spirals into chaos as the pair work to resolve their respective situations – Pierret to find his wife and unborn child; and Sartet to absolve both their names and seek revenge.
Performances in Point Blank are of a very good standard. Both Lellouche and Zem represent realistic performances of their characters based on the situations they come from. Lellouche is convincing to the audience as the “fish out of water” guy stuck in a bad situation and desperate to do anything to rescue his wife, and he also exudes a “young De Niro” quality on his performance as well. Zem is the experienced crook, where nothing seems to intimidate him – his back up plans have back up plans, and yet while he pushes forward this attitude of individuality, he also convincingly shows he can’t resolve his dilemma without Pierret.
The plot behind Point Blank is a fairly standard and stock action template – that has faithfully and successfully been used for centuries in all manners of storytelling: a man without ‘action man’ experience, discovers himself thrust in a no-win situation, where his must make questionable and/or law-breaking decisions to save the one he loves. It’s been used countless times, but it works when done well. Essentially it’s a classic fairy tale/myth/legend template. Inexperienced hero (knight in shining armor) must rescue his pregnant wife (princess) from the police station (castle or fortress) guarded by the bad guys (dragons). It’s effective, and it’s exciting.
Point Blank does this relatively well, with some elements that are used effectively. The infusion of one inexperienced character with an experienced one makes for an interesting characterized dichotomy, and does not seem to fall into too many frictional moments between them. That being said, there are major logic gaps in the writing – with the worst offender being the incriminating evidence on a digital device (essentially the MacGuffin of the movie) – data that can be (and probably would be) in reality, erased. In this era, you would expect writers to consider some of this 21st century logic gaps when putting a story together.
There is also a couple of predictable “it’s been done before” action sequences. Some of these are, yes, timeless and always work in a good action flick with lots of chase scenes; but there are several used in Point Blank that scarcely enhance the moments – one being the scene where our protagonist cuts off his pursuers by slipping behind a moving train before they can cross over too. It’s been done to death in many movies, and I think there may well have been dozens of alternative ideas that may have worked better.
In spite of this, there was one unrealistic moment that turned into a fabulous selling point for the movie. As disbelieving as the sequence was, Hugo orchestrating countless crimes across the district, turning the Police CCTV resources against them was extremely amusing, and a cornerstone for Point Blank. It just goes to show that logic gaps and plot holes need not be necessarily negative aspects of a movie sometimes.
The visual technical approach of the movie is worth mentioning as well, in particular with regards to the lighting. The lighting, particularly in the early moments inside the dark “dungeon” in which our “princess” (pregnant wife) is kidnapped by the “dragons” (the bad guys), is ghostly – but wonderfully orchestrated to show a compelling vision of facial expressions, both frightened and tense. It was a page from the horror movie experience, effectively used in the action genre, creating some extraordinary shots as well.
The camera work during the chase sequences (there’s a lot of these) are also worth noting. There is some shaky cam experience in there, but it is not domineering – in fact, the camera work during these moments is remarkable solid. It conveys the speed and pace of experiences such as from The Bourne Identity franchise, but provides some solid photography that is suggestive of 1970s/1980s action thrillers from the USA, France, and England.
Additionally, on a side note, there’s a hell of a lot of smoking in this film – and I really noticed this being on my (at the time of writing) 15th day of being a non-smoker. I am not criticizing this, nor being critical of my fellow nicotine addicts; it’s simply an observation from watching the movie.
Generally, Point Blank is an enjoyable thrill-ride. There is very little to the plot, hardly any symbolism or subtext throughout – but it works as an action thriller and popcorn flick. The action sequences are exciting, high-paced, and there’s some great tension in there. This is definitely one to add to your queue.
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