A taught, little French thriller

Point Blank

on July 21, 2011 by Richard Mowe

pointblankreview.pngIt has Hollywood remake written all over it, but director Fred Cavayé's second directorial outing is thrilling and suspenseful without an American star like Russell Crowe or an excess of explosions. A male nurse with a pregnant mate is forced into a world of crime when a failed hit sends a career criminal into his hospital with wounds to tend. A dearth of international stars may make Point Blank a tough sell but word of mouth should be positive and it could drum up a cult following.

It takes your breath away right from the opening credits with a 100 mph motorbike sequence through Paris' streets and tunnels; the pace doesn't let up for the 80 minutes that follow.

Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is training to be a nurse while his pregnant partner Nadia (Elena Anaya) is confined to bed; a straightforward man with few idiosyncrasies, Samuel couldn't be more ordinary if he tried. When career thief Hugo (Roschdy Zem, Outside the Law) is hurt in a motorbike "accident" and Samuel treats him in hospital, he gets dragged into Hugo's murky underworld. He has no other choice: Hugos' cronies kidnap Nadia and use her as a pawn to persuade the hapless Samuel to spring Hugo from intensive care where, by this time, he is under police guard. To flee the scene the pair has to outrun two detective squads, one decidedly less scrupulous than the other.

Cavayé made his debut on Anything For Her in 2008, a crime thriller, which was remade as The Next Three Days with Russell Crowe as the lead (hence my joke). He has a way with suspense, avoiding trickery in favor of a well-constructed script and superbly orchestrated chases and confrontations.

Here Lellouche (Little White Lies) does an excellent job of portraying his character's mounting fear and confusion as finds he cannot escape the vortex he's unwittingly set into motion. He is neatly contrasted with Zem's chilling professional hood.

There is no relation, of course, to John Boorman's 1968 Point Blank with Lee Marvin, but there is more than a touch of The Bourne franchise here, as Cavayé switches back forth between the hunted and the hunters. There may not be much originality in the proceedings but as a roller-coaster ride it hits all the right buttons.

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya, Mireille Perrier, Claire Perot, Moussa Maaskri, Pierre Benoist
Director: Fred Cavayé
Screenwriters: Fred Cavaye, Guillaume Lemans
Producers: Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Jean-Baptiste Dupont 

Genre: Thriller; French-language, subtitled
Rating: R for strong violence and some language.
Running time: 84 min.
Release date: July 29 NY/LA


Tags: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya, Mireille Perrier, Claire Perot, Moussa Maaskri, Pierre Benoist, Fred Cavayé, Guillaume Lemans, Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Jean-Baptiste Dupont

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