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Point Blank


Yet another French thriller arrives perfectly on-target.

Rod Lott February 1st, 2012

Not since 2006’s “Tell No One” has a foreign-born thriller overtaken my pulse as handily as Fred Cavayé’s “Point Blank.” Both hail from France. Neither is a hunk of fromage. In fact, they put American thrillers to shame.

pointblank

As its title suggests, the “Fugitive”-esque “Point Blank” begins at rapid fire, with our protagonist, Samuel (Gilles Lellouche, “Mesrine: Killer Instinct”), literally running for his life, not to mention that of his wife. A quick flashback reveals the reason why: Witnessing a car crash, Samuel swoops in and puts his nursing skills to good use to save an injured man. In return for being a Good Samaritan, Samuel receives a call that his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya, “The Skin I Live In”) has been kidnapped.

In order to get her back unharmed, Samuel must smuggle the injured man out of the hospital. The infirmed, you see, is one of those career criminals who can’t risk being stuck in such a public place where authorities are bound to ask too many questions. His many friends in felonious places plot to get him out, in a chess game using Samuel as the unwitting pawn.

Although the smuggling is not without its obstacles, Samuel succeeds. Yet, as these things typically go, that’s hardly the end of our hero’s ringer — a ticking-clock whirlwind of action and suspense. In a sequence where some characters are revealed to be not who we thought, amid much gunplay, viewers may notice their arm hairs standing on end. In another scene, where Samuel has to pull a Jackie Chan move from “Rumble in the Bronx” by leaping from a rooftop into a window of an adjoining building, viewers may notice their heart racing.

Cavayé achieves all this in a swift, efficient 84 minutes with credits. Compare to that, say, the U.S.’s recent Russell Crowe spouse-in-peril vehicle, “The Next Three Days,” which clocks in at a bloated 133 minutes. Coincidentally, that mediocre movie was a remake of Cavayé’s own “Anything for Her,” a 2008 film that satisfies more in less time — 37 minutes, to be exact. There’s something to be said for brevity, especially when a story plays out in what feels like real time, as “Point Blank” does. Never give the audience the chance to take a potty break.

World cinema is alive and well ... and kicking our asses. I’m not complaining. —Rod Lott


 
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