Point Blank December 16, 2016
Take away its subtitles and 2010’s Point Blank is as American an action film as any — think a little Mission: Impossible (1996) stirred with Saboteur (1942)-era Hitchcock. In this wronged-man thriller tighter than Teyana Taylor’s tummy stars Giles Lellouche as Samuel Pierret, a nurse’s aid who finds himself mixed up in a race against time after he saves the life of a gangster (Roschdy Zem) following an assassination attempt. His pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) held hostage by murderous goons until he safety escorts the man in question to his conglomerate of thugs, Samuel’s forced to become his own version of a thrill-seeking Tom Cruise.
Point Blank’s more than just a straightforward game of cat and mouse — also central is a subplot that involves corruption at the hands of law enforcement agents — but at a brisk eighty-four minutes is it uncomplicatedly a pulse pounder worth remembering, with no cinematic fat to deter its constant gut punches and no languid operatic pauses to dampen its lightning pace. It’s all action fused with just enough dramatic nuance to render it as exciting and emotional — every bullet counts, and every twist is soaked in a covering of stakes we’d rather end in relief than tragedy.
While its sequences of action are death-defying to the Bourne caliber, brilliantly shot and dependably harrowing to their core, it’s the performances from Lellouche and Zem that stick with us. Respectively frazzled and suavely 007-esque, the juxtaposition between Samuel’s everyman ineptness and Hugo’s cool rancor makes the duo a compelling odd couple both desperate to make it to the other side for wildly different reasons that surprisingly resemble each other in their life or death urgency. Both have the in-the-moment physicality necessary for the genre in question; their characterizational believability is but a supplemental component that makes them anti-heroes whose lack of invincibility makes them all the more enthralling to watch.
It shares the same name as the haunting John Boorman directed psychological thriller starring Lee Marvin, bearing no similarity in content. But arguably comparative is both films’ fascinating following of men severely fucked over, with Marvin taking matters into his own hands in an effort to make right, and with Lellouche metamorphosing into someone he isn’t as a way to ensure the safety of both himself and the woman he loves. In both Point Blanks do we see protagonists pushed to their breaking points. How they deal with their personal setbacks is another story. Consider this 2010 film to be the more optimistic of the two. B+