Synopsis – To save his pregnant wife, an emergency room nurse teams up with an injured murder suspect in a race against time, rival criminals and renegade cops.
My Take – While the title might lead you to believe that this Joe Lynch directed film is a remake of the 1967 classic crime-noir, it turns out it is actually an American revamping of 2010’s À Bout Portant.
Promoted mainly as Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo’s first pairing outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this thriller, which has already been remade in South Korea as ‘The Target’, and few other languages including an upcoming Bollywood version, is Netflix’s latest run at the action thriller genre by cashing in on the casting of two (now) widely known faces.
While the film does successfully offer some fun little sequences and a handful of tantalizing cliffhangers, it also unfortunately come off like a watered down, bootleg version of Collateral, if it was presented as a buddy comedy, and a mediocre rehash of every action film you’ve ever seen ever.
Yes, there’s nothing wrong with trying to deliver a straightforward crime film, but here the proceedings are just so by-the-numbers, it gets really underwhelming quickly, much like the fellow French-language thrillers Sleepless Night or District 13 remakes.
On the plus side, both Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo manage to drag the film to just about watchable status.
The story follows Paul (Anthony Mackie), a male nurse juggling his hectic work schedule with tending to his pregnant wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris). During his routine check up on the patients, he comes across a mysterious unconscious patient, who has been admitted as the main suspect in the murder of the city’s district attorney, but unexpectedly he gets jumped by a man in a ski mask in the room, who leaves Paul with a couple of bruises.
Once he provides his best description to Lt. Regina Lewis (Marcia Gay Harden), he heads home to find himself attacked by the same assailant, who knocks him out and kidnaps Taryn. It turns out the assailant who goes by the name, Mateo (Christian Cooke), needs Paul to do only one thing, get his brother Abe (Frank Grillo), the mysterious patient, out of the hospital and deliver him in exchange of his wife.
But as is usually the case, there are complications. Abe, now awake and pumped full of painkillers, is also in possession of a USB, which a group of dirty cops are looking for, and are ready to kill anyone for it.
The film mostly runs on the fumes of its chase-film formula. There’s dramatic hand-to-hand combat, shootouts, double crosses, dirty cops, and car chases. Adequate produced, but notably underwhelming. Sure, a few action setups are worthy of mention. One is a fight while the two are on a conveyor going through an automatic car wash. It sounds silly but it works. The film contains a few well executed car chases, with good continuity.
But it’s hard to say what’s at the core of the film’s problem, in part because it seems to take so many missteps. Fast-paced sequences seem to drag, characters that should be rich with feeling fail to land, and sudden comedic tone-shifts in the third act make what little payoff the film has a joke.
Director Joe Lynch (Mayhem, Wrong Turn 2) seems to be under the impression that he’s thumbing his nose at viewer expectations, but for the most part, we recognize the clichés. For example, we know that Abe and Mateo aren’t really bad guys.
Yes, there are moments when the film tries to surprise the audience, but most of you will see the twists coming a mile away.
The film, backed by Joe Carnahan; the director of The Grey and The A-Team, and Frank Grillo, seems to have been made (& promoted like I mentioned earlier), to work as some sort of fan-fiction about Crossbones and Falcon chumming it up rather than bringing anything of interest to the characters of Abe or Paul.
While the French film got mileage out of its slick urban thrills and the underwhelming South Korean remake went for high end style, here, director Lynch tries to turn the film more in the vein of 80s buddy cop films, but unfortunately lacks the finesse needed to balance its jokes with high-stakes violence.
Yes, the film finds a fun groove with the arrival of the gangster, Big D (Markice Moore), who brings the kind of energy the film needed much earlier to sell it more as an action comedy. That route would have been better than the by the numbers crime thriller director Lynch tries to establish.
Also like his previous big screen effort Mayhem, director Joe Lynch overdoes the dizzying camera work, quick cuts and even sense of storytelling presumably in hopes of disorienting viewers enough that they stop trying to comprehend what they’re watching.
Also he makes some bizarre soundtrack choices that range from questionable to outright corny. The song choices are so bad they derail suspense out of scenes that should be filled with tension and drama. There’s a lot of culprits in the film not being as enjoyable as it could have been, but the music selection is the real killer here.
But none of the film’s problems seem directly tied to Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie, two constant solid performers, who make no exception here. Christian Cooke and Teyonah Parris also provide some excellent support to them, however, Marcia Gay Harden, seemed miscast as a hard-edged cop and her performance comes off like she’s trying too hard to be edgy. On the whole, ‘Point Blank’ is decidedly modest action thriller which despite two strong leads is run down by its clichéd and underwhelming approach.
Directed – Joe Lynch
Rated – R
Run Time – 86 minutes