Music Feature

Film Review: Point Blank

by Piers Marchant
An action film even subtitle haters can get behind.

Dir. Fred Cavayé
Score: 5.9

Here is a film even subtitle-haters can get into: So much of the 90-minute screen time is devoted to breathless chases in and out of hospitals, subway stations, police centers and parking garages, you hardly ever have to turn your attention to the bottom of the screen to read any dialogue. Which is just as well, because the script -- by director Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans -- works best when it eschews its flawed-logic narrative and just cranks up the action pieces.

Our hero is Samuel (Gilles Lellouche), a fantastically French nurse's aid, with crinkly eyes and a perpetual dark shadow of stubble, whose stunning Spanish wife, Nadia (Elena Anaya), 7.5 months pregnant, spends her time wanting to sleep with him and making ratatouille. One late night at the hospital in which Samuel is studying to be a full-blown male nurse, he observes a stranger messing with one of his comatose patients, Sartet (Roschdy Zem), brought in earlier in the day after being chased by shady characters and left for dead after a motorcycle collision. Saving Sartet's life, Samuel runs afoul of a group of ruthless, corrupt cops lead by a hollow-cheeked ghoul named Werner (Gérard Lanvin), whose scraggly beard practically reaches his eye sockets. In short order, Samuel is accosted in his apartment, and Nadia is kidnapped as a ransom for him delivering Sartet to safety. He gets quickly embroiled in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with the corrupt cops and Sartet himself, a high-level thief in his own right.

With its high production values and confident, engaging cinematography, the film settles into a high-concept bit of fluff and nonsense. Sartet and Samuel, forced to work together against Werner and his crew, form a kind of anti-buddy twosome (typical of their minimalist give-and-take is when Werner orders Samuel to stitch him up after a brawl leaves his stomach bleeding profusely). Essentially, it's precisely the kind of action vehicle Harrison Ford is always on the look out for (one can practically hear him shout "Rends-moi ma famille!" with righteous indignation), a slightly edgy, fast-paced thriller without much in the way of what you might call brains. Which isn't to say it doesn't have its moments. Samuel is desperate and unskilled enough to ratchet up the tension between the otherwise cold as ice Sartet and Werner, and one sequence in particular near the climax, with a precinct house overrun with chaos and the characters all fighting through the unruly crowds to get at one another, hums with satisfying kind of energy. Otherwise, it's a lot of near misses and worn down shoe leather, perfect for the anti-literate crowd.

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