16 June 2011

POINT BLANK- Review

As a counter-point to those English language European action flicks, which usually involve Liam Neeson going to the continent and killing everyone, there's a decent line of foreign language action dramas revolving around family men who are forced into violence, such as Anything for Her. Then again, these films present themselves to Hollywood as eminently remake-able- Anything for Her became The Next Three Days. Starring Liam Neeson. Never mind.

Still, Point Blank's premise is undeniably an interesting one, as trainee nurse Samuel Pierret collides with organised crime and corrupt cops following a night shift at the hospital. After saving sedated criminal Hugo Sartet from being whacked in his bed, Samuel's home is invaded and his pregnant wife is kidnapped. Samuel agrees to sneak Sartet out from under police guard in exchange for her safe return, but doesn't count on the large-scale manhunt that follows.

Point Blank literally sets off running, and it barely slows down for a breath for the full extent of its brisk running time. At 84 minutes, including credits, this is a film that's in the business of delivering sharp thrills and gripping action over a relatively short amount of time. In that much, it's a roaring success, but in much the same way as Anything for Her and its subsequent remake, its pacing glosses over some of the more gaping missteps.

It's particularly in the final act that the film really begins to stretch credulity, as Samuel and Sartet, whose faces have appeared throughout the film on television news bulletins all over the place, wander straight into a police station without being recognised. As with the climax of writer-director Fred Cavayé's last outing, it relies just a little too much on the good guys' incompetence. But for its part, the speed of the thing safely clears any plotholes, and with gusto. The sustained police station sequence is very well executed, eking out the tension to make for what feels like the longest scene in what's actually just a fairly brief film.

Gilles Lellouche makes for a persuasive everyman, but in a similar way to Sharlto Copley in District 9. He might not be up to the hugely entertaining histrionics of Wikus van de Merwe, but Lellouche is just as believable in the role of a panic-stricken action hero as Copley is. His character's unlikely rapport with Sartet, played by Roschdy Zem, is reminiscent of many popular buddy movies, and it's in that much that you know someone or other is already thinking about the English language remake.

By virtue of its very quick running time, Point Blank sustains its completely relentless pace for the entire affair. Absurdities and exposition be damned- Cavayé has an exhilarating action film to present, and there's not a lot that he allows to get in the way of that. Like Hitchcock, he seems cynical about the rightness of authority from time to time, but also like Hitchcock, he's made a film that bears more than a passing resemblance to his previous work. If you're getting bored of the increasingly laborious cinema of attractions being turned out by Hollywood, take a look at this nimble and undemanding French flick.

Point Blank is now showing in select cinemas nationwide.
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 I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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