Friday, 10 June 2011

Point Blank (Fred Cavayé, 2010) Review

There are twists n' turns aplenty in Point Blank (2010), but you've seen them all before...

Despite its rampant stupidity, Fred Cavayé's Anything For Her (2008) was given an easy ride to acclaim by critics with a predilection for subtitles. There is a snobbish fantasy, present in most film academics, which dictates that all Hollywood movies must be loud and stupid, yet cinema from France is introspective, artful and inherently interesting. Bollocks to that, I say, and seemingly so does Cavayé, who has turned out yet another dizzyingly silly and formulaic genre exercise which is getting rave reviews from every direction. I can't see why. The lazy plotting (coincidence is not a narrative device), formulaic design and bland cinematography puts it only a few notches above the likes of Taken (Morel, 2008), which at least embraced its lobotomized premise and injected it with high-octane, no-holds-barred thrills. It's claptrap, sure, but it didn't feel the need to dress itself up and pretend to be anything else. Point Blank ends with a police station siege involving against-the-clock safecracking and a fistfight between an armed cop and a pregnant woman. The city has unexplainably gone mad with crime, the camera spins out of control and trainee nurse Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) searches for his loved one. Do you reckon he finds her just in the nick of time, when merely seconds later he'd have been mopping up after a corpse? Of course he does... but who cares? After all, it all happens in French!

The fact remains that if Point Blank were an English language Liam Neeson vehicle it'd be getting a critical bashing, and that's unfair. You could map out the entire plot from minute one, especially the villain revelations and realignment of loyalties, which switch every five minutes, leaving the audience grasping for any sense of logic or continuity. This would all be fine if the execution was creative, but it's not. Cavayé, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Guillame Lemans, struggles with narrative progression in baffling ways, given that the strongest elements of Anything For Her were its tightly composed structure, methodical foresight and economic use of time - basically, its understanding of rhythm and tension. Point Blank scrambles through conventional scenarios, mainly chase sequences, which, while shot with a degree of kinetic energy, lack any emotional weight or original choreography. An on-foot chase through a train station may be set to a pumping score, but it's tediously derivative and I just found myself bored. Common sense is abandoned in the hope of creating an exciting rollercoaster ride, but the required leap of faith cannot be taken when we have no human connection or story to hang onto, and the action, amped up to eleven seemingly at the hope of international release, fails to impress.

The simpler answer, however, is that Point Blank is a plain bad film. Not terrible per se, because there are some decent performances on display and the editing is quite proficient, but absolutely every other element is boringly by-the-numbers, thematically insubstantial and won't leave any kind of mark on the genre. It's wholly forgettable, but critics will blow smoke up Point Blank's arse for its dialect alone, assuring it'll be labeled as a better film than it actually is, and as long as Cavayé is listening he'll become less and less interesting, falling for the persona of himself created by snobby academics with a predilection for subtitles...

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