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Point Blank

By Philip Martin

This article was published September 16, 2011 at 4:07 a.m.

— Point Blank is a smashingly entertaining French action film that seems almost certain to be remade as a big budget Hollywood blockbuster within the next year or two. But let me suggest that even those allergic to subtitles will find much to like in this breathlessly paced crime story (which bears no relation to the 1967 John Boorman film of the same name, although Boorman was apparently operating under the influence of the Gallic Nouvelle Vague when he made it).

Anyway, here’s the setup. After a thrilling opening chase that ends with an apparent burglar (Roschdy Zem) smacked by a car, the man is trundled off to a hospital, where he’s put under the care of a male nurse trainee Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche). That night, as the victim lies in a coma, someone sneaks in and disconnects his respirator.

Pierret intervenes in time to save his life, but the stakes are raised the next day when thugs invade Pierret’s home, beating him senseless and abducting his very pregnant wife Nadia (Elena Anaya). He can have her back if he does exactly what her kidnappers ask.

And the main thing they want is the injured man, who’s now conscious and apparently a notorious underworld figure named Hugo Sartet, implicated in the murder of a wealthy businessman. Pierret is to take him from the hospital to the kidnappers. Or else.

Pierret manages to spirit Sartet out of the hospital moments before police arrive, thus becoming a fugitive himself and caught up in the internecine war between shadowy Parisian gangsters and corrupt police, in a race against time to save his wife and unborn child. Yes, it’s a highly improbable cliche of a movie but former fashion photographer Fred Cavaye’s second feature is a wild adrenaline-laced ride that will likely raise your heart rate to anaerobic levels.

I haven’t seen Cavaye’s first film, Pour Elle (2008), but Point Blank is highly reminiscent of the Hollywood remake of that movie, the Russell Crowe vehicle The Next Three Days. (It also feels more than a little like Tom Twyker’s similarly energetic Run Lola Run from 1998.) It’s a French movie that’s obviously influenced by Hollywood convention, It’s sort of like how The Beatles and other English Invasion bands absorbed American blues and bounced them back across the ocean (where American musicians started forming bands that sounded vaguely “British”).

But though The Next Three Days was enjoyable to a point, Pour Elle is generally considered a much better movie. That’s not hard to understand, given the signal loss that invariably attends making copies. And some of us just like to look at Paris, which we get to see a lot of as Pierret races around, with all manner of hellhounds on his tail.



: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya


: Fred Cavaye


: R, for violence, language and sex

Running time:

84 minutes In French with English subtitles.

MovieStyle, Pages 38 on 09/16/2011

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