Point Blank (Magnolia Pictures, R)

Writer/director Fred Cavaye has jettisoned all unnecessary dialogue and action; his style makes each scene pulse with that much more energy.



The phrase “nonstop action” gets bandied about quite a bit in film marketing, but for Point Blank it’s a pretty apt description. The bare bones film, which runs just over 80 minutes, plays like a much bleaker Run Lola Run but packs just as much punch in its short run time. Writer/director Fred Cavaye has jettisoned all unnecessary dialogue and action; his style makes each scene pulse with that much more energy.

Set in Paris, the film opens with a severely wounded man running for his life from two pursuers who are both carrying guns. We are not told who the bad guy is or if there even is one; there’s a sense that all three men are most likely criminals. After a long chase, the bleeding man, Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem), collides with a motorcycle and is taken to the hospital, much to the dismay of the two men who were chasing him.

At the hospital Sartet is completely incapacitated and under sedation. A nurse’s assistant, Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche), notices a rather shady character leaving Sartet’s bedside and discovers that his breathing tube has been disconnected in an attempt to finish him off. After speaking with the police, Samuel returns home to his wife, Nadia (Elena Anaya), who is near the end of her pregnancy with their first child. Before he can react, Samuel is attacked from behind and wakes up to discover his wife has been taken.

As he tries to get his bearings, a cell phone lying beside him rings and a voice tells him he must sneak Sartet out of the hospital or his wife will be killed. As Samuel sees it, he has no choice and so he heads to the hospital with a very vague idea of how he will free Sartet. By now, Samuel knows that Sartet is a wanted criminal, so he must find a way to cooperate with a dangerous man who he probably can’t trust in order to rescue his wife and their unborn child.

Watching Point Blank, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to films like The Bourne Identity or Taken, but Cavaye’s expert handling of his material also conjures up images of Carol Reed’s The Third Man which features the classic chase scene through Vienna’s labyrinthine sewer system. Samuel is running from multiple entities (criminals, cops, gangsters), but is only running toward one thing: his wife. We as the audience have no choice but to follow along, but we do so willingly because we pity this average Joe who got hit with the worst luck in the world.

Lellouche is terrific as Samuel, who experiences nearly every emotion over the course of the film. Lellouche’s appearance is that of a bulldog, which works to his advantage; he can be sweet and kind, but when cornered he has a very threatening air about him that can be surprising. Working opposite Lellouche is Zem, who is just plain frightening. His cold façade doesn’t show a single crack and we know from very early on that his enemies will not have a happy ending.

Point Blank is a thrilling film that will appeal to pretty much any moviegoer for a variety of reasons. The film is short and everything happens fast, so make sure to pay close attention or you could miss a very important detail. | Matthew Newlin


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