A couple's lives are turned upside down when the woman is kidnapped and her boyfriend must negotiate her realease.
From the writer and director of 'Anything for Her,' the inspiration behind Paul Haggis's 'The Next Three Days,' comes an exhilarating and taut crime thriller, once again featuring a husband risking his life and freedom for the woman he loves. But in this scenario, the man's wife is seven months pregnant and being held hostage while the husband is forced to commit a prison break of sorts. What it lacks in innovativeness, it more than makes up for in style and suspense, delivering a well-structured and exciting action flick.
Director Fred Cavayé has yet to make an indelible mark with wide audiences — this being only his second feature-length film to date. But given what he's done thus far, the French filmmaker is proving to be quite the talent behind the camera. Working from a script he co-wrote with Guillaume Lemans, Cavayé turns the implausible into a frantically energetic chase through the streets of Paris and keeps viewers constantly on the move. Even pauses, when conversations fill in some story gaps, are essentially brief interludes with other layers of suspense, adding to the mystery of why nurse's aide Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is running for his and his wife's life. Taking a cue from the 'Bourne' films, Cavayé builds and develops tension in the moment, rather than slick post-production trickery.
Thinking back on it, one has to admire some of Cavayé's riskier moves along with appreciating his storytelling techniques. Although he takes little time in pairing Samuel with wounded criminal Sartet (Roschdy Zem), Cavayé wins our sympathies when establishing the married couple's current dilemma. At home, Samuel's wife Nadia (Elena Anaya) has been given doctor's orders to stay off her feet until the due date six weeks away. It's a bold move having her be man-handled by various baddies, forced to deal with a strenuous situation while handcuffed and mistreated aggressively by terrible people. It all leads to a climactic resolution with the most unfavorable delivery conditions as the police station erupts into complete petty-criminal chaos.
Of course, much of this daring and flurry of thrills is tempered with the standard elements of this type of sub-genre — those revolving around kidnapping and ransom. While being seen as a wanted criminal during a city-wide manhunt, Samuel needs at least one person in law enforcement to believe in him, and that character comes by way of the wonderful Mireille Perrier of Leos Carax's 'Boy Meets Girl' (1984). Surprisingly, and thankfully so, this doesn't play out as expected when Gérard Lanvin, as the dubious Commandant Werner, quickly becomes a formidable foe. The rest pretty much runs its customary course, full of corruption, double-crossing and shocking revelations — not so much for us as for the characters involved in this brisk and tense 84-minute thriller.
Admittedly, 'Point Blank' doesn't offer much beyond its genre trappings, but it delivers on what it promises, which is more than can be said of many movies of the same ilk. What's more, Lellouche's riveting performance is a big part of why this film works so well. He's an average guy caught in extremely frightening circumstances without the faintest idea of how to resolve it, reacting to everything around him with panick and fear. Along with Cavayé's effective direction, it all makes for an impressively well-executed and electrifying actioner, which proves that playing by formulaic rules shouldn't equate to dullness. We should start preparing for the inevitable remake.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Magnolia Home Entertainment releases 'Point Blank' on a Region A locked, BD50 disc, housed in the standard blue keepcase. At startup, we have the usual collection of trailers before being greeted by the normal main menu options with full-motion clips and music.
'Point Blank' blasts unto Blu-ray with good video, but not quite the sort of strengths we'd expect from a newer release.
For the most part, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode displays great clarity and fine definition from beginning to end, with nothing of major significance to ruin its enjoyment. The issue is that the 2.35:1 picture frame is simply rather plain, with middle-of-the-road contrast levels. This is likely due to the cinematography and not a drawback of the transfer, making the entire presentation a bit drab with a grayish tone. Blacks tend to suffer because of this, wavering from rich and opulent in many exterior shots to lackluster and dingy in several others. Shadow details are often engulfed and disappear, though brightly-lit scenes are pretty distinct and sharp. The color palette, too, doesn't offer much beyond some dramatic blues and reds.
Overall, the action thriller debuts with passable results which won't likely disappoint most viewers.
The audio comes in with slightly better marks, largely due to Klaus Badelt's score. The music is engaging and delivered with excellent clarity across the soundstage while also bleeding lightly into the back speakers. A few atmospherics also take advantage in the rears though they're hardly convincing. Much of the action is in the front where the dynamic range is rendered with crisp clarity, creating an enjoyably wide and welcoming image. There's a surprisingly good amount of high-frequency activity that comes across with good detailing and room-penetration. Bass is fairly low and responsive, adding plenty of weight to the action and gunshots. Vocals remain well-prioritized and intelligible amid all the noise, making this an enjoyable lossless mix.
Although it doesn't look like much, the one supplement is fairly lengthy.
'Point Blank' is a taut, well-executed crime thriller which follows a clear formula but actually delivers the entertaining goods. Fast-paced and calculated, the film doesn't let up thanks to Fred Cavayé's direction and believable performance from Gilles Lellouche. The Blu-ray blasts its way to home theaters with an average though not bad picture presentation and better audio. Supplements are rather meager as well, making the overall package best served as a rental but worth recommending for the film itself.