Shooting to Kill and Kill Again in French Adrenaline Pumper Point Blank

Point Blank, a French action film that has nothing to do with the 1967 (and highly Frenchified) John Boorman flick of the same name, opens with a bang: An apparent burglar (Roschdy Zem) running from the scene of an office break-in gone wrong. Zem, a familiar presence in the films of French–North African director Rachid Bouchareb, is chased by a pair of hit men over the rooftops and through the catacombs of "downtown" Paris, to be saved for the moment when a providential car accident lands him—wham!—in the hospital.

A male nurse trainee (Gilles Lellouche) is the injured burglar's next angel, but no good deed goes unpunished in former fashion photographer Fred Cavayé's cunningly contrived, energetically directed, thoroughly economical second feature. Within hours, the nurse's very pregnant wife (Spanish actress Elena Anaya, one of the leads in Pedro Almodóvar's upcoming The Skin I Live In) is abducted by the bad guys and, suffice it to say, the everyman nurse finds himself in one ultra-hairy situation, compelled to do battle with warring cliques of cops and gangsters, the clock ticking loudly, in order to save his wife and their unborn child—kept on ice, literally, in a suitably ominous meatpacking plant.

A wildly improbable adrenaline-pumper, replete with fierce shoot-outs, mad metro chases, and one very tough delivery, Point Blank (which had its local premiere at the last Tribeca Film Festival) leaves Paris littered with corpses while sparing few principles from a spattering of blood. It's not ersatz American; if anything, the movie has a strong Hong Kong flavor, particularly in its plotting and choreography. Still, Hollywood adapted Cavayé's first feature (as the Russell Crowe vehicle The Next Three Days), and this unpretentiously effective cliché fest could (and surely will) be profitably remade in the U.S. shot for shot—perhaps even with Zem, whose tragic presence gives the movie a semblance of soul.

jhoberman@villagevoice.com

 
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