In 10 Words or Less
Man on the run
Loves: Well-made genre films
Likes: Action thrillers
Dislikes: Unnecessary remakes of foreign films
Hates: Corrupt cops, children in danger
The only reason I wanted to take a look at Point Blank was a recommendation by Joe Cornish. If the director behind one of the best genre films in recent memory, namely the British alien-assault movie Attack the Block, was excited by this flick, it was certainly worth 84 minutes of my time. It certainly wasn't the cast of unknowns (at least here in America) or writer/director Fred Cavaye, whose Anything For Her became the Russell Crowe drama The Next Three Days, as neither was well-known to me. So on Cornish's good word, I ventured into a French world of crime and corruption, as aspiring nurse Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is pushed to the limit in a rocket-fueled spiral downward.
While working in the hospital one night, Samuel has the bad luck to save a man's life when others specifically want him dead, which puts him at odds with some bad people. The man's enemies kidnap Samuel's extremely pregnant wife in order to blackmail him into getting the man out of the hospital and into their hands. Stuck in the middle, Samuel will do whatever he has to to save the lives of his wife and unborn child, quickly finding himself a suspect and a target, with no one to turn to and danger at every turn. As the story unfolds, things just get more complicated for Samuel, who has to rely on some quick thinking and pure determination if he's to save him burgeoning family. Lellouche, who is something of a French Greg Grunberg, is quite good as an average guy up against extraordinary odds, and it's easy to root for him because he never breaks the plane of being superhuman.
Coming into the film, Cavaye was an unknown quantity, but it's clear after watching Point Blank that he's one adrenalin junkie of a filmmaker. The movie hits the ground running (literally), with a thrilling chase punctuated by one of the more violent crashes I've seen, and pings forward like a pinball from there, piling on the action and suspense at a breakneck pace. Though there are a few moments to allow you to catch your breath, they are only really there to let Samuel to catch his (and he'd have to be an Olympic-quality runner to travel the way he does here.) Even the pace of the plot, which is just less kinetic than Samuel's frequent runs, is a marathon of sprints, spinning the story around with twists and turns that never let up. A heist film-quality break-in at the police station is chaotically brilliant, making it utterly believable that a wanted man could walk through a battery of cops without being noticed.
Though it would be easy to throw a pile of action scenes at the audience and overwhelm them into a frenzy with a lot of bangs and pows, Caveye instead ramps up the intensity through clever use of the camera and ramped-up consequences for the characters. Yes, there's screaming, gunplay and fights, which never hurts the level of excitement, but manipulating the viewer's point of view and creating a sense of claustrophobia that requires an escape, while raising the stakes continuously for everyone involved, not just Samuel, results in some true thrills and carries the film's relatively short length in a more genuine and thus enjoyable manner. When all is said and done, unlike so many such action films, the climax makes plenty of sense, thanks to the groundwork laid down earlier, and is completely satisfying (though the coda wasn't entirely necessary and feels like something of a red herring.) It's just pure high-tension fun.
This film arrives on one Blu-Ray disc, in a standard BD keepcase. The disc features a animated main menu with options to watch the film, select scenes, adjust the languages and check out the extras. Audio options include French and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, while subtitles are available in English, English Titles and Text Only, English SDH and Spanish.
The 2.35:1 1080p AVC-encoded transfer looks terrific, capturing the film's stylized look and color palette beautifully, with an extremely high level of fine detail (take a look at any character's facial hair and you'll see individual bits of stubble) and no noticeable issues with digital artifacts. Fleshtones, though frequently tinted in blue or brown, are good across the board, and black levels are also pretty consistent, working with the cold colors and earth tones to maintain the film's atmosphere.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks help round out the film experience, supplementing clean dialogue with constant ambient sound, really coming to the fore when in busier locales like the subway and the police station, sharing space in the surrounds with the sound effects, which employ some nice placement to create a full sound field. There are occasional questionable mixes, like in one scene where a smashed door is behind the viewer in the speakers, but in front of the viewer on the screen, but for the most part everything plays nice and creates an impressive sound.
The sole extra of substance is Fred Cavaye's Yeah-Yeahs (Which Don't Necessarily Mean No), a 50-minute behind-the-scene documentary (presented with subtitles.) Mixing on-set footage with interviews with the key players, it's an excellent inside perspective on the film's production, looking at everything from pre-production decisions to practical effects to on-set issues between cast and crew. It's quite candid and a unique look at the making of a movie, whether you enjoy the film or not.
Also included is the film's trailer, as well as trailers from other Magnolia releases.
The Bottom Line
For the subtitle-phobic, if you can get past the need to read, there's a fantastic action film here, and for everyone else, it's just simply a great, edge-of-your-seat thriller that doesn't ask a lot and overs a ton in return. The Blu-Ray is quite nice in terms of quality and there's a good-sized extra included for those who want to peek behind the curtain. If you want a good time with plenty of action, you can't go wrong with this movie.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.