2010 // France // Fred Cavayé // August 2, 2011 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Theaters Tivoli Theater)
It’s challenging to find anything to actively dislike about a work as functional and ably presented as Fred Cavayé’s breathless crime thriller, Point Blank. The film blends a noir-tinted story with the sort of frenetic Continental chases and standoffs that will likely have viewers searching in vain for Liam Neeson’s stern visage. In his absence, we have Gilles Lolouche portraying staunch Everyman Samuel, a nurse ensnared by pure happenstance into a world of violent fugitives, murdered millionaires, and corrupt officials. Clocking in at an agreeably brisk 84 minutes, the film boasts a trim unfussiness that expunges unnecessary scenes and dialogue. That said, Point Blank is so rigorously unadventurous in its narrative that one can’t help but feel a touch dissatisfied. Almost every set piece and plot twist that Cavayé and co-writer Guillaume Lemans employ has been presented elsewhere with far more verve and style, and the script’s hackneyed tendencies have a troublesome habit of short-circuiting tension. Case in point: The opening scenes of domestic contentment between Samuel and his pregnant wife Nadia (Elena Anaya) virtually guarantee that she will soon be placed in mortal peril, and will eventually emerge unscathed. Capable action sequences can’t elevate a film this formulaic above mere utilitarian genre escapism. Fortunately, even within this context, there are modest pleasures, such as an enticing turn from Roschdy Zem as an unruffled safe-cracker, or a nerve-jangling climactic scene in a bustling police station.