Foreign genre junk doesn’t come as readymade for Hollywood repackaging as Point Blank, a thriller that will likely one day get remade with Shia LaBeouf and The Rock. One quality that will not be carried over, and which is this engagingly silly exercise’s saving grace: speed. At 81 minutes, this is a compact, fleet-footed time-killer, which moves so fast you rarely have the chance to dwell upon how stupid it is.
Having nothing to do with the 1968 Lee Marvin classic, nor the 1996 Mickey Rourke-Danny Trejo non-classic, this Point Blank opens in media res, with Hugo (Roschdy Zem) on the run from goons. Before he’s caught, he’s struck near-fatally by a car, and deposited in a hospital where he’s easy prey. Embroiled in this mysterious mess is Samuel (Gilles Lellouche), an excitable nurse-in-training who makes the mistake of inadvertently saving the comatose Hugo from an assassination attempt. Hugo’s predators promptly abscond with Samuel’s very pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) and blackmail him into collecting their prey and readying him for sacrifice.
Predictably, this does not go swimmingly, and once Hugo awakens, what follows is a head-spinning progression of plot twists, role reversals, exchanges of power and the occasional flat-out inanity, much of the latter revolving around everyman Samuel’s ability to somehow not get his ass handed to him. The presence of subtitles don’t make Point Blank any less moronic than most Hollywood thrillers, but Hollywood long ago lost the power to charm its way past its logical inconsistencies, making this a throwback to the days of film noir programmers. Director/co-writer Fred Cavayé offers no chance for rumination, often piling one hairpin turn upon another, to the point of whiplash.
And though all is tediously explained in the bloated letdown of a third act, part of the fun is the stretch where the viewer is totally lost, not even being sure for awhile if Hugo is as bad as the baddies pursuing him. Most important, it confirms the steely, laconic Roschdy Zem—after Days of Glory, Outside the Law and The Girl From Monaco—as one of cinema’s reigning badasses. Put this guy in a Jason Statham buddy actioner stat.
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