Magnolia Pictures // 2010 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 12th, 2011
A desperate man is a dangerous thing.
In wartime, the French may not be super-interested in mixing it up, but I'll give them this much: they're bad-asses when it comes to making action movies.
Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is a normal guy. He's got a pregnant wife and an unglamorous job as male nurse. He's hoping to eventually grab a promotion, but for now he's just going to have to settle for sewing up patients in the ER and dealing with holier-than-thou supervisors. However, life changes dramatically when one of his patients turns out to be an infamous criminal in the French underworld. Suddenly Samuel is pressed into a lethal cat-and-mouse game, with his kidnapped wife and unborn child at stake.
You want a fantastic little thriller: here you go. Magnolia tends to deliver the goods with their action imports, so I had healthy expectations for Point Blank. And they were exceeded.
Despite a few plot points being telegraphed, there are plenty of surprises lurking within; this from someone who hasn't been surprised by an actioner since Samuel L. Jackson was devoured by a mutant shark. The effort is appreciated.
First surprise: Our hero. Samuel is very much "some random dude." He's not an ex-military hardass or a retired spy, he's a male nurse who loves his wife dearly. I don't think he wins a single fight he's in. He mainly runs for his life, and a female assailant beats the hell out of him. He doesn't go on killing sprees or conjure up creative methods to torture information out of bad guys. Samuel is an everyman caught in an impossible situation and director Fred Cavaye goes out of his way to prevent him from being an unstoppable superhero.
The result: Samuel is one of the most root-worthy, compelling characters I've seen in any film this year. No exaggeration. We're given just enough character development in the beginning to see that Samuel is a) a really good guy, and b) loves his wife. Both elements hold true throughout, generating high stakes and high tension from the starter's pistol.
Once the characters are set, Cavaye puts his foot on the accelerator and Point Blank doesn't let up until the finale. What's really remarkable is that there aren't any huge action scenes -- a pair of foot chases, a fight in a bathroom, and that's it. We don't need huge space robots blowing each other up and $200 million worth of visual effects. It's the set-up and the stakes that make Point Blank so successful.
Magnolia, as usual, serves up a quality high definition treatment. The 2.35:1/1080p widescreen transfer is beautiful, a highly-detailed, clean piece of visual wizardry. An active 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track pushes out the mayhem and composer Klaus Badelt's impactful score. Only one extra: a making-of documentary.
It's not an action blockbuster in any sense of the word, but Point Blank is more exciting than pretty much any big budgeted epic Hollywood coughed up this year. Vigorously recommended.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site