I felt suitably adrenalized while watching Fred Cavaye‘s Point Blank (Magnolia, 7.29), and moderately pleased while thinking about it later. Set in Paris, it’s a violent chase film about a hospital worker and his pregnant wife hurled into a high-pressure, do-or-die, move-it-or-lose-it situation. Cops, thieves, criminals, corruption, fists, guns, etc.
You’ve seen aspects of this before but the pacing feels just right. It’s fast and furious but not overly pushed or accelerated to the point of audience fatigue or numbness. And the dynamic — an innocent man pools forces with a lone-wolf criminal as they try to escape the wrath of numerous high-level baddies — feels relatively fresh or at least unhackneyed.
The French-langugage title is A Bout Portant.
It’s a little nutty here and there, but the action is more realistic — guys actually escape from their pursuers every so often, or at least manage to catch a breath from time to time. And the cutting is more ’70s-style (similar to the action beats in William Friedkin‘s The French Connection) than standard-issue U.S. crime thrillers, which have become way too fast and hyper for the most part, and have been all but ruined by the influence of the hyper-manic pacing and the oppressive Paul Greengrass shakycam aesthetic.
I’m especially angry at the idiotic and stifling notion in American crime thrillers that bad-guy pursuers must always be somewhere between a quarter-step and a half-step behind the pursued, and that get-aways can only happen at the very last millisecond and never before. It’s insane. Cavaye pulls back from this a bit.
Point Blank could use a little more breathing space and a bit more interplay between the regular-guy protagonist (Gilles Lellouche, playing a hospital orderly with a kidnapped pregnant wife) and the freelance desperado (Roschdy Zem) whom he teams up with out of necessity and desperation. But other than that this is an above-average thriller. There’s not a lot of residue when it’s over but these kind of films rarely linger. They’re just wham-bammers.