Point Blank (A Bout Portant) (2010)
(15) Running time: 84 minutes
Director: Fred Cavaye
Writers: Fred Cavaye, Guillaume Lemans
Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gerrard Lanvin, Elena Anaya, Mirielle Perrier
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The director of this tight and ferociously paced thriller, Fred Cavaye, made a name for himself a few years back when he directed the critically acclaimed and superb thriller, Anything For Her. The film was later remade into the Russell Crowe starring film, The Next Three Days which was expertly directed by Paul Haggis. Anything For Her is testament to Cavaye’s skill as a director, and with Point Blank (A Bout Portant) he delivers another astonishing thriller that rarely lets up for a second and does not give you much chance to breathe, let alone take anything in. However, at 84 minutes, the films running time is very short, and whether this was intentional by the director or not, it is here that the film has flaws. However, for the majority of the film, you couldn’t really ask for more, and the final, frantic ten or so minutes will have you on the edge of your seat, and may even have you shed a tear!
Samuel Pierret (Lellouche) is happily married to the gorgeous Nadia (Anaya), she is heavily pregnant, he is due to take his Doctor’s exam soon, and their life couldn’t be better. The film opens with a man being chased, you do not know what for but it turns out later that he is a thief. During the chase he frantically calls his people on his phone, and suddenly is hit by a car in a brilliant accident scene in a underground tunnel. The thief’s name is Hugo Sartet (Zem) and he is about to enter Samuel’s life and put him through the most unrelenting, tense and frightening few days he will ever have to go through. Sartet ends up in Samuel’s hospital, and after a dodgy bloke sneaks in a attempts to kill Sartet, it is Samuel who saves his life by getting his heart pumping again, a hero for the briefest of moments. The next day while at home enjoying breakfast with his wife, men break into their home and knock Samuel unconscious and take his wife captive, he wakes up to a phone call telling him he has a deadline to break Sartet out of hospital and deliver him back to his people, in exchange for his wife.
We are barely ten minutes in and already dizzy by the onslaught of action on screen and we are now thrown into a non stop, fast paced and very tense game of cat and mouse as Samuel attempts to free Sartet, a wanted criminal, evade the police and other dodgy chaps, and get his pregnant wife back to safety. As one would guess, there are double crosses, twists and turns and often characters are not what they seem, or just come and go within the blink of an eye. This is all good stuff, with one of the highlights being a staggering chase though a train station. The camera shakes and frantically tries to keep up as all sorts of action goes on all around us. There is a real quality to the delivery of these scenes, a real sense of chaos and you really get to feel what Samuel is feeling. In a brief moment of pause, he throws up after running so much, and we the viewer almost feel like doing the same. The director clearly has a keen eye on how to make his chase scenes look good, however with so many films like this, it is getting difficult for directors to come up with something new. Sadly, Cavaye does not have any new tricks up his sleeve, however the film still feels fresh and inventive, even if it is not, and that is not a bad thing I can tell you.
Where the film does let itself down is character development, or rather the lack of it. Add an hour to this film, slow it down a bit, this could have been a minor classic, but it seems Cavaye set out to make a simple, frantic and ferocious chase film about a man trying to save his wife and unborn child, nothing more and nothing less. The main characters of the film, Samuel and his wife Nadia, provide the best in depth characters and you do feel for them as the film goes on and each are put in one hopeless situation after another. There is also a sense from Samuel of needing to do the right thing, expertly shown as he attempts to stop Sartet killing a well known mobster. Sartet is probably the other main character in the film, and you never really get to know him, although a scene where he goes around putting the word on the streets is chilling as he meets up with one scary looking bunch of chaps after another, and it would appear he is well respected, a feared. However, this is never really explored, and the rest of the characters are all interesting, all have agendas and you desperately want to know more about them.
Like I said though, maybe that was Cavaye’s plan all along, lets forget the formalities and just enjoy the ride, and the ride, for all the annoyance of not knowing enough about your cast, is very very good indeed. There are plenty of plot twists, so you will need to try and keep up, but Point Blank is a highly rewarding, action packed and tension filled 84 minutes that will more than please those who want nothing more than to be on the edge of their seats for the entire running time!