The IMDb trivia page for Netflix’s Point Blank says the movie is “Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo’s first collaboration outside the MCU.” Is this what we’ve come to? Are all films heretofore going to be judged within a post-Marvel Cinematic Universe context? Is it too easy a joke to say filmmaker Joe Lynch shows so much skill and visual dexterity with Point Blank, he’ll inevitably graduate from wildly entertaining small-to-medium-budget genre films and direct a superhero movie for a gigantic paycheck? Or am I exaggerating a little? Maybe. But only just maybe.
POINT BLANK: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Abe (Grillo) dashes from the house of the freshly murdered district attorney, a hail of bullets following him. His brother Mateo (Christian Cooke) is the getaway driver — but Mateo accidentally hits Abe with the car, and he ends up in the hospital. Paul (Mackie) is the nurse on duty, and he thought he was just going to work as usual, leaving his Extremely Pregnant Wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris) at home to be Extremely Pregnant. Little did they know that a whole bunch of gangster shit was gonna fall on them like it’s the last days of Pompeii: it’s just one’a those days.
Sort this: Mateo kidnaps Taryn, forcing Paul to help spring Abe from the hospital. Only Abe can take Paul to Taryn. Only Paul can administer necessary medication to the banged-up Abe. Paul and Abe — they need each other. Star-crossed lovers, these two. Ain’t it beautiful?
But movie plots like this are never so simple — no, it’s cut and dried like a steak that’s still on the cow that’s still mooing. Lt. Lewis (Marcia Gay Harden) leads the increasingly complicated murder-escape-kidnapping investigation. Abe and Mateo owe a buncha dough to a gangster known only as Big D. Between car chases and shootouts and other tense things, there’s some dialogue about corrupt cops and a flash drive full of evidence. And OH SHIT READY OR NOT THAT BABY GONNA COME!
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: It’s no surprise to see Joe Carnahan’s name in the credits as a producer — his directorial efforts Narc and The Grey are fine examples of modern-throwback action-thrillers with suspense to spare. Lynch lifts a few moves from De Palma and Carpenter, with maybe a snatch or two of influence from current darlings Refn and Stahelski. And the dialogue outright blatantly makes mention of Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A.
Performance Worth Watching: Check it out, this movie gives us FULL BRUTAL HARDEN. Few can wither an entire forest with a squint and a hardass line-reading like MGH.
Memorable Dialogue: “Everybody’s always talkin’ about how they’ll do anything for their f—ing family — well, this is as f—ing anything as it gets right now, pal!” — So says Abe, motivating Paul to stop being a man who’s a nurse, and be a nurse who’s a MAN.
Single Best Shot: The nicely choreographed opening shot: Nighttime. A brick mansion. Gunfire lights up the windows. A man smashes out an upper-story window. He rolls off the top of a car and hits the ground running, towards the camera. He comes into focus: IT’S GRILLO. The soundtrack kicks in: the opening riff of Black Flag’s “Rise Above,” barreling along. Shit just got real!
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Welcome to Point Blank, where everything is morally compromised except the sanctity of motherhood! This doesn’t mean the movie is a grim watch — it’s more of a dark comedy with elements of tragedy, and I won’t tell you which whether the scene in which a desperate man points a gun at a woman’s Extremely Pregnant Belly is the former or latter.
Here’s a hint, though: Lynch makes sure the movie never takes itself too seriously, one of the hallmarks of superb genre filmmaking. It also boasts a twisty plot, a little light kidnapping and revenge, flimsy subtext and maximum style. Shots range from virtuosic to merely nifty — there isn’t a dull one in the movie. The performances are nuts-and-bolts sturdy: Grillo is hard as nails, Mackie is earnest, Parris sidesteps the rote hysteria of victimhood and Harden is one of those sharks with multiple rows of teeth that break off when she bites things only to be replaced with more teeth for more biting.
Don’t judge Point Blank for its title, which is generic and has, at best, loose relevance to what happens in the movie. (Maybe Lynch and screenwriter Adam G. Simon are making direct reference to the brutally efficient 1967 genre classic Point Blank, in which Lee Marvin plays one of the toughest tough guys in cinema history.) The script is lively. A little bit of emotion trickles through. A gangbanger defies character type by being obsessed with Turner Classic Movies. The soundtrack ranges from classic punk to ABC to Whitesnake, which wouldn’t fly 30 years ago, but flies high and tight now. And keep alert for that cracking car wash scene.
Our Call: STREAM IT. “This doesn’t have to be perfect, just believable,” one character says at a crucial point, which might be where the movie reviews itself in the dialogue, except for the times when it stretches plausibility and my comparison falls apart, but hey, at least I’m trying. Genre-film fans and those with an eye for a clever camera angle will be having too much fun to care.
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