Blu-Ray Review: POINT BLANK - Fast-paced French Thriller Lacks Intrigue

It's a rare occurrence that I find myself truly 'thrilled' after watching a Thriller.

It's a rare occurrence that I find myself truly 'thrilled' after watching a Thriller. The vast majority of them these days depend on predictable plots involving kidnapped loved ones, the magnitude of events spiralling out of control and, for some reason, running away from gunmen down escalators. Along with fast editing, urgent music, and inaccurate gunfire coming from supposedly seasoned killers which never find the target, these appear to be the mainstays of the contemporary thriller. Point Blank is a French thriller, directed by Fred Cavaye, which fits comfortably into the category described above. Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche) is a male nurse who is responsible for taking care of hospitalised criminal gang member Hugo (Roschdy Zem). Other parties inevitably get involved, and soon Samuel's wife (Elena Anaya) gets kidnapped by the patient's underworld associates, who demand that he breaks Hugo out of hospital for them. A wider plot involving police corruption gets revealed, and Samuel and Hugo are soon on the run from both the polie and criminal underworld. This fairly generic plot is given some urgency by the fact that the hero is a male nurse clearly not cut out for the high-intensity chases and firefights he's subjected to, and also by his wife's imminent pregnancy, which meant that I was wincing at each of the considerable number of bumps, punches and kicks that she was subjected to throughout the film. Lellouche and Anaya do well in maintaining constant looks of shock and bewilderment as two everyday people pulled into circumstances well beyond their control. Roschdy Zem meanwhile, is perhaps a little too cool for his own good, and even though the script angles him towards being an ultimately likeable and righteous character, he remains a bit too distant to ever really warm to. Once the action starts €“ and it quickly does - Point Blank has no trouble remaining fast-paced and adrenaline-inducing throughout, which should keep fans of such cinema gripped throughout its modest running time. However if, like me, you're not a fan of the genre, there is too little character development to care much for whatever justice may be delivered to the faceless villains. Furthermore, the 'big cover-up' in the film, involving police corruption and the death of a political figure, is made up of periphery characters, and it is redundant compared to the more direct predicament faced by Samuel and Nadia. Point Blank is a riveting watch, but mainly thanks to the trump card of the danger posed to the pregnant woman, and on the visceral level achieved through fast, choppy editing, a constant pounding soundtrack, and some strong action set-pieces. There is something to be appreciated about the film's lack of pretence. By not focusing too heavily on the wider events that Samuel and Nadia get caught up in, we immerse ourselves in their limited point-of-view, which cares for little more than the family €“ including the unborn baby €“ to remain intact. The understated conclusion points to this too, and although justice is served in the end, this doesn't matter as much as the fact that the innocents caught up in these events get to return to normality. But such a linear re-establishment of a happy equilibrium, with no sense of the preceding events having been of any consequence on the protagonists' lives, is precisely what will make my memory of this film as fleeting as its running time.

Disc & Extras

The Blu-ray conversion of Point Blank is functional rather than flashy, with the video transfer being made in a 1080i format. The picture quality is crisp, while not being overdone with DNR to the point of looking clinical. It's nice to see that, as Samuel sheds sweat and blood throughout the film, the understated digital processing means that he looks weighed down by it, rather than being given an unnatural shimmering radiance as is the case when the developers crank the DNR up to 100. The film grain sometimes becomes quite visible, which isn't what you'd expect from a cool contemporary thriller, but the overall conversion complements, rather than overhauls, the film's aesthetic. Aside from the obligatory theatrical trailer and photo gallery, the only extra to speak of on the disc is a comprehensive and detailed documentary on the making of the film. Rather than the whole cast swooning over each other and talking about how great everyone is to work with, this feature gives an an insight into the surprising lengths that some of the actors went to in this film with regards to stunts and action sequences. It also talks about the wider dynamics of the film industry, and how Point Blank compensated for its lack of a Hollywood budget to still come out as on of the better action thrillers of 2011. Point Blank is out now on Blu-ray.

Gamer, Researcher of strange things. I'm a writer-editor hybrid whose writings on video games, technology and movies can be found across the internet. I've even ventured into the realm of current affairs on occasion but, unable to face reality, have retreated into expatiating on things on screens instead.