If you go into Point Blank, Netflix’s new action-thriller starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo, expecting anything other than a fun, dumb action flick, you’re going to be disappointed. But if go in looking for 90 minutes of solid, predictable entertainment—the kind best served with a pizza and six-pack of beer—you’re going to get exactly what you signed up for, in a good way.
Directed by Joe Lynch and written by Adam G. Simon, Point Blank is a remake of the 2010 French film of the same name. (No relation to the 1967 cult hit of the same name, however.) The set-up is simple: Paul (Mackie) is an emergency room nurse who gets attacked while attending to an injured criminal named Abe (Grillo). The attacker is Abe’s loyal brother Mateo (Christian Cooke), who kidnaps Paul’s pregnant wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris), and blackmails Paul into helping his brother escape police custody. Paul obeys, and, now on the run with Abe, slowly realizes that maybe the good guys aren’t who he thought they were.
Lynch wastes no time diving right into the action, and he films it well. There’s almost no scene without action in fact—the majority of which are car chases—but Lynch keeps it moving, leaving no time for you to get bored of the repetition. Coming off of a decade of Marvel fight scenes, there’s also a refreshing lack of CGI explosions and super-human punches—you’re actually able to discern what’s going on in every part of the screen. And speaking of, Mackie and Grillo, old Marvel buddies as Falcon and Crossbones in the Captain America films, immediately fall into an easy banter that’s fun to watch. The dialogue isn’t exactly inspired (there’s a lot of “I’m driving!” “No I’m driving!”), but Mackie and Grillo have enough charisma between the two of them to make it work. Grillo, in particular—who was also a producer on the film—manages to find something deeper in a tough guy character he’s played many times before.
Abe is not, we quickly realize, a bad guy. He’s just a guy looking out for his brother, and said brother needs quite a lot of looking out for. Here’s where Point Blank surprised me, in a good way: The emotional heart of the film, it turns out, is not Paul’s relationship with his wife. It’s Abe’s relationship with his brother, Mateo. Cooke, an English actor who was most recently seen in Ordeal by Innocence, deserves a shout-out for driving that heart, as well as for driving all those vehicles. He makes Mateo more compelling than he has any right to be, really. There’s a strange lost-little-kid innocence to him—even as he points a gun at Taryn’s pregnant belly—to the point where you wonder if he’s suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness.
Parris, best known for her role in the 2014 film Dear White People, holds her own in the thankless role as the kidnapped wife; sympathizing just enough with Mateo that it’s sweet, but thankfully not enough that it’s Beauty and the Beast levels of problematic. And of course, there’s the always-great Marcia Gay Harden as the police lieutenant, who does her thing and does it very well. (It would be a spoiler to say what that “thing” is, exactly, but trust me, it’s good.)
Is it the best action flick you’ve seen? Probably not. But for me, Point Blank was fun and compelling, and perhaps more so than Netflix’s other recent attempt at the genre, Triple Frontier. But do get started on that beer before you hit play.
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