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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Point of No Return (Blu-ray)
Point of No Return (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // April 7, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $28.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 27, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

A well made and entertaining, if completely unnecessary remake of Luc Besson's excellent La Femme Nikita, John Badham's 1993 Bridget Fonda vehicle Point Of No Return holds up quite well more than fifteen years after it was made.

When the movie begins, a gang of gun-totting junkies break into a drugstore hoping to score enough junk to feed the monkey on their collective back. The cops show up, hoping to get there in time to stop the robbery, but when they make the scene they're surprised to find all of the crooks shot dead save for a woman named Maggie Hayward (Bridget Fonda). She shoots a cop dead and soon finds herself sentenced to death for her actions, but after she's given what should be a fatal injection, she wakes up to find that the government has actually saved her with the intent of turning her into one of their elite assassins.

Maggie is trained, mentally and physically, first by a teacher named 'Bob' (Gabriel Byrne) and then by Anne Bancroft (Amanda), for her new life and after her education is complete, she's released into the general population knowing that she'll live her live on call for the government 24/7. This seems like a pretty decent alternative to the execution that she was slated for, until she begins to uncover the truth behind why she was chosen and what the government really expects of her, which becomes particularly complicated as she falls for a photographer named J.P. (Dermot Mulroney) and meets up with a man named Victor (Harvey Keitel) better known as 'The Cleaner.'

While pretty much universally maligned by critics upon its theatrical release in 1993, Point Of No Return is a very nicely polished slice of ultra violent action cinema. Bridget Fonda shows some real depth and emotion with her portrayal of Maggie before, during and especially after her character's transformation. With Maggie as the core of the film it's obviously important that the casting choice work and thankfully it does quite well. Supporting performances from the likes of Bancroft, Byrne and Keitel all add to the mix quite nicely but Fonda is the one who stands out here and she really does steal the show. She's got an endearing girl next door quality to her that somehow makes her character likeable even when she's strung out and acting like a complete brat. She might not exude pure sex like Anne Parillaud does in La Femme Nikita but she's got a charm all her own that works well in this picture.

This being an action movie, it won't likely surprise many to find out that it's a pretty violent picture, in fact, it's noticeably bloodier and nastier than the French film that it's based on. The shoot outs and action scenes are all shot with a lot of gloss and you could argue that the picture glorifies violence, but regardless, it certainly makes for enthralling entertainment. Badham paces the film quite well and it moves along at a good click, never overstaying its welcome or feeling padded.

If the movie doesn't have as much style as La Femme Nikita, it doesn't have any less substance. Both films are equally vapid and completely unrealistic, but they're both also a lot of hyperactive fun. Nikita might seem more sophisticated because of its foreign lineage but there's really not much more to it. Enjoy Point Of No Return for the 'girl with a gun' movie that it is and you'll walk out completely satisfied.

The Video:

Point Of No Return debuts on Blu-ray in a decent quality VC-1 encoded 1080p anamorphic 2.40.1 widescreen transfer. You'll notice an improvement in detail over the standard definition release almost immediately, particularly in close up shots. There is a wee bit of edge enhancement if you really want to look for it but otherwise this transfer is quite well authored. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts to note nor is there much in the way of shimmering. Skin tones look good and black levels are nice and strong without ever smearing while shadow detail remains quite strong as well. Sharpness looks good, color reproduction is nice and accurate, and all in all things look quite good. While some grainier scenes might annoy those who want their HD looking squeaky clean, it's never distracting, it just looks like film.

The Audio:

The main audio track, and the best way to enjoy the film is the English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, though alternate language tracks are supplied in Dolby Digital English 5.1, French 5.1, Castilian 5.1, Latin 1.0, German 5.1 and Italian 2.01 tracks with subtitle options in English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish.

While the transfer is a nice improvement over the regular DVD release, the difference in the audio is even more noticeable. The soundstage has been opened up considerably here, with a lot more ambience and a much more enveloping mix. Directional effects are very clear while bass is nice and strong without ever overpowering the consistently clean sounding dialogue. Surround usage is never overdone, instead, it nicely compliments that action on screen. The score used in the film has a nice bit of punch to it and the levels are all properly balanced without any evidence of hiss or distortion. This mix may not be reference quality, but it's damn good none the less, particularly when you consider that the movie is over fifteen years old.

The Extras:

Aside from some classy looking menus and chapter stops... we get a standard definition trailer. And that's it.

Overall:

While this remake doesn't really improve on the original in any way, shape or form, judged on its own merits it's a pretty tense and entertaining thriller. While Warner hasn't exactly rolled out the red carpet with this release, particularly in terms of supplemental material, at least the movie looks and sounds quite good making. Point Of No Return comes recommended, even if it doesn't do much to expand on or differentiate itself from La Femme Nikita.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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