Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Marcia Gay Harden, Christian Cooke, Teyonah Parris
Netflix July 12
The bullets are already flying when the burglar Abe (Frank Grillo) tumbles into the foreground of Point blank, jumping from the balcony of a mansion under the tunes of the Black Flag hardcore anthem "Rise Above". Exchanging shots with a couple of morons in ski masks, he ran, bleeding, through the very rich neighborhood, down to the intersection where he was going to meet Mateo (Christian Cooke), the brother pilot of the slash. And it's almost in sight of the car's escape when a sedan crosses the intersection and sends Abe flying a good 10 feet to a thunk on the asphalt. Unfortunately, this aborted action scene is about as punk as Point blank gets – unless, that is, it is considered that throwing a thriller in Cincinnati is a punk gesture.
In the hospital, the gears of the plot are grinding. Abe, still unconscious, is the prime suspect in the murder of the deputy prosecutor, and the police have already found him. After an unsuccessful attempt to break up his brother, Mateo develops a cockamamie plan. He follows at home Abe's nurse, Paul (Anthony Mackie), knocks him out and kidnaps his nine-month-old pregnant wife, Taryn (Teyonah Parris). All Paul has to do is get Abe out of the hospital and deliver him to his brother and he will let her go. But as usual, there are complications. Abe, awake and filled with painkillers, is in possession of one of those USB sticks filled with incriminating evidence that has become the default MacGuffin of our time. He has dirty cops after him, and there's a king of drugs who wants his head.
A remake of the French thriller 2010 of the same title (already redone once before, in South Korea, as Target) Point blank works mainly on the emanations of its chase-film formula. (Needless to say, none of these films have any connection to the 1967 modernist neo-noir of John Boorman) Point blank.) Director Joe Lynch (Always, Badassdom Knights) seems to have the impression that it is a snub to the expectations of the viewer, but we mostly recognize the clichés. We know that Abbe and Mateo are not really bad (except the kidnapping), just as we can spot the real villain at one kilometer. While the French Point blank got mileage from his smooth urban shivers and Target The Americanization down Lynch draws mostly for movie-school-dorm humor. It goes from jokes about a cannabis-leaf shaped piñata and a movie-obsessed gangster, Big D, to the soundtrack, to an 80's dance-themed playlist featuring Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Oran "Juice" Jones and Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five. Even for someone who keeps very good memories of the time when every aspiring filmmaker wanted to be Quentin Tarantino (or, worse, Guy Ritchie), everything is in order.
This leaves the relationship between Mackie, a reliable and friendly presence, and Grillo, a classic actor with a hoarse voice, at a time when the transcendent roles of the B-movie seem to be rare. Like the thriller 2017 Wheelman, Point blank was produced for Netflix by WarParty Films, the joint production company of Grillo and Joe Carnahan. (Logo: a gun firing a disco ball.) But if both films share surface similarities (the two movies are thrillers that last less than 90 minutes and the Grillo star as a hustler in a robbery that went wrong), Point blank is far from WheelmanMinimalism and the kind gimmickry. Unlike this very literal star-shaped vehicle, which was mostly driven by a car driven by Grillo's nameless character, it feels one size fits all – that is, it is not specially adapted to its stars. This is close to their heart, more and more in tatters as and when.