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Point Blank

Director: Fred Cavayé
Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Elena Anaya, Roschdy Zem, Mireille Perrier, Claire Perot

(US DVD: 6 Dec 2011)

Point Blank, the latest thriller from French writer/director Fred Cavayé, doesn’t break any new ground, but it has something that too few action films actually have these days: action, action, and more action. Things kick off right from the start, and in the terse, 78-minute run time, little space is wasted.  Point Blank grabs on, and drags you kicking and screaming along for a fast-paced, turbulent, and most importantly, kick ass ride.


The story of an everyman driven to extreme measures, the plot of Point Blank is predictable—think this: nothing is ever going to be that easy, and you have a idea of what will happen—but it is executed well, and Cavayé crafts a tense, action-packed film. It’s more that you have a general sense of where the film is going, than you can actually guess what’s in store. There are enough twists, turns, and tweaks to the formula that Point Blank never becomes distractingly formulaic, and the end result is a great deal of fun.


Samuel (Gilles Lellouche, Mesrine: Killer Instinct) is a normal guy, a nurse-in-training, just trying to do right by his pregnant wife, Nadia (Elena Anaya, The Skin I Live In). When a mysterious John Doe (Roschdy Zem, 36th Precinct) comes into Samuel’s ward, his life is thrown into a violent tailspin; a storm of chases, shootouts, murder, and betrayal. John Doe is Hugo Sartet, a low-level, lifetime criminal who happened to see something he shouldn’t have, and seemingly everyone wants him dead as a result. Nadia is kidnapped, the ransom is that Samuel must help Sartet escape, and things quickly devolve from there.


Is it the mob? Is it a cadre of corrupt cops? Who can Samuel trust? Will he ever see Nadia again? Who wants Hugo dead? To get out of their parallel predicaments, Samuel and Sartet must form an unstable trust, an uneasy bond, and team up for what turns out to be a really, really bad day.  A bad day that will see them leaping off buildings, being framed for murders they didn’t commit, and dealing with a variety of other problems neither of them planned for.


A pair of rival police squads, and an assortment of other unsavory characters are hot on the heels of Samuel and Sartet. There are taut chase scenes, narrow escapes, corruption, lies, and layers piled upon layers of deception. The pace never slows down for you to catch your breath. Your heroic duo are constantly on the run, searching for clues, dodging bullets, trying to figure out what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into, and how the hell to get themselves out. Everything builds until the only possible way out is through a grand, daring, possibly suicidal mission. In short, Point Blank is just about everything you want out of a tough-as-nails, badass actioner.


The DVD from Magnolia doesn’t come with a glut of bonus material. There are a few audio options, including dubs and subtitles; a trailer for Point Blank, a movie you just watched; and a collection of trailers for other recent films. None of that is of much interest to anyone.


The one significant extra that Point Blank does come with is a 49-minute long behind-the-scenes video. Part production documentary, part discussion of the film, the topics covered run the gamut from debate about costume decisions, to in depth breakdowns of particular scenes. Interviews with cast and crew are interspersed with footage from the set. For what it is, there’s a lot of information here. It’s interesting to watch them set up some of the more extreme stunts, and it is fun to see the crew experiment angles, shots, lighting, and various filmic elements, in an attempt to find what will work best for a given scene and location. The cameras capture some spirited discussions between the actors, director, and producers, about what they have time to keep, and what will have to be cut, and how to squeeze every last useable frame out of the production.


After a while things get repetitive—it is only interesting to watch the stage a couple scenes—but overall, there is a lot of great information here, and this extra offers a unique look behind the curtain of a large-scale movie production.

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Brent McKnight lives in Seattle and has an MFA from the University of New Orleans. He likes dogs, beards, and Steven Seagal, and rants about movies at thelastthingisee.com, GiantFreakinRobot.com, The Playlist, and more. Recently he fulfilled a lifelong goal, appearing as an extra in a zombie movie.


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