Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Since the world is completely open to us all now, we have a good idea where to go when looking for a certain style of cinema.  For an unforgiving, tough, unapologetic crime drama, then we to head to South Korea to watch stuff like ‘Chaser’ or ‘I Saw the Devil’.  Over the top cop / crime action, then we still need to shoot over to Hong Kong where films like ‘Flash Point’, ‘SPL’ or the ‘Infernal Affairs' series are still the prototype for this kind of thing.  Strange movies off the beaten path, then somewhere in Scandinavia where you can see movies like the Millennium Series, ‘Let The Right One In’, ‘Dead Snow’ and so many other strange movies, but Japan is where you really want to go if you want really strange movies.  But the action thriller?  France.  Like this movie here ‘Point Blank’.  Now Point Blank isn’t the best action thriller to come out of France, I mean it’s no ‘Taken’ or ‘Tell No One’ or anything but it is still a solid thriller.  Oh, and not to sell my country short or anything because I’m nothing if not a patriot, but when I need to see a movie from another country get remade, or a sequel, or a lame Romantic Comedy I don’t have to go far for that. 

The man, who we will learn is safe cracker Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem) is in bad shape.  He’s been shot, he’s being chased through the streets of Paris by the dudes that shot him, and he just got smashed by a motorcycle.  Hugo gets carted off to an emergency ward, and it still looks like he’s not going to survive, but whoever wants him dead really wants him dead and shows up at this ward to insure that he doesn’t make it.  Fortunately, nurses assistant Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche) was there to put my man back on his respirator and chase off whoever it was that was trying to kill this guy.

When it comes to average guys, there are not a lot of them more average than Samuel Pierret.  He looks average, it doesn’t look like he works out all that much, he’s a nurses assistant… not even nurse yet… he’s married to the lovely and pregnant Nadia (Elena Anaya) and he lives a simple life that’s about to get terribly, terribly complicated. 

The next day, after saving Hugo, Samuel finds himself knocked on the head, his wife kidnapped, and he’s been ordered to find a way, any way, to get Hugo out of that hospital.  This is complicated by the fact that the police have learned Hugo’s identity and his lengthy record and are mighty curious about how he got himself shot and are about to tighten his security detail. 

This is the point that ‘Point Blank’ starts and doesn’t stop until near the very end as Samuel struggles to get Hugo out of the hospital and to the person that wants him which, of course, goes all to hell.  From there it gets progressively worse for Samuel, and Hugo for that matter, when they discover who their true enemies are.  Worst still is that possession of Samuel’s pregnant wife, who is supposed to be on bed rest, has changed hands to these awful, awful people and they won’t think twice about putting a bullet in her head or tossing her out of a nearby window.  Complicating matters further is that both men are being relentlessly pursued by the police since unfortunate circumstance has painted them as cop killers.

So while Samuel and Hugo don’t become friends, the do realize they have to work together to achieve a common goal, that goal being staying alive.  Separately Hugo has revenge on his mind and Samuel is desperate to save his lady and get his life back.  This may happen, or it might not happen.  These things are always up in the air in these foreign movies.

Directed by Fred Cavaye, whose last movie we saw the completely ridiculous but incredibly entertaining ‘Anything for Her’ remade for an American audience and called ‘The Next Three Days’.  ‘Point Blank’ is not near as outlandish as ‘Anything For Her’ and neither is it quite as entertaining as ‘Anything for Her’, but it is still plenty entertaining and it is still plenty outlandish. 
The thing about ‘Point Blank’ is that this is a standard, general paint by numbers thriller.  Things happen that need to happen to further the plot, this plot being neither all that clever or complex, we have good guys, we have bad guys, we have a straightforward conspiracy to deal with and it all follows a fairly predictable path which is fine as long as it’s done effectively and efficiently.  Needless to say, ‘Point Blank’ is a fine tuned machine of effective action and efficiency. 

Lellouche is pitch perfect as a simple everyman way out his element, and at no point does he ever become a superman doing things we know he can’t do… unlike say Roschdy Zem and his character who earlier in the day needed a breathing machine just to survive, but later that day was kicking everybody’s ass with extreme prejudice.  Still, if you’re looking for someone to provide your film with a touch of cool menace, Zem is your guy.  Gerard Lanvin’s character of Werner was about as bad as a bad guy gets with his stone face and his total of three lines of dialog, and Cavaye rarely slows the movie down long enough for the audience to catch its breath or think too hard about the occasional dot that fails to connect.

Again, ‘Point Blank’ isn’t the cleverest or the smartest thriller out there, but there are times when we have to appreciate a movie for not over thinking what it is and accomplishing what it set out to do.  ‘Point Blank’ succeeded on almost all of those levels.  Hell if I know what the title is supposed to mean, however.

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