Point Blank is a Netflix-produced crime thriller from director Joe Lynch (Everly, Mayhem) and a remake of the French thriller A Bout Portent, by Fred Cavayé.
The story sees emergency room nurse Paul (Anthony Mackie) tending to a man brought in to the hospital with injuries sustained from a car accident. It transpires that the man is Abe Guevara (Frank Grillo), who is wanted by police in connection to the assassination of a district attorney. While Abe is under police guard, Paul’s pregnant wife, Taryn (Teyonah Parris), is abducted by Abe’s brother, Mateo (Christian Cooke), who gives Paul an ultimatum: free Abe from the hospital or Taryn will be killed.
With no choice but to do as he is asked, Paul takes Abe on the run, with two seasoned cops, Lewis (Marcia Gay Harden – The Mist, Miller’s Crossing) and Masterson (Boris McGiver – House of Cards) on their tail. The story leads us down a winding path of corruption and duplicity.
Point Blank is another Netflix crime movie starring the excellent Frank Grillo, which will inevitably draw comparisons to Jeremy Rush’s superior Wheelman from 2017 (also produced by Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan). While Point Blank is not quite as accomplished as Rush’s lean and gritty vehicular pulp, it is still a solidly entertaining and similarly styled crime drama; they would both sit very nicely in a double bill together.
The film opens in excellent fashion, as Abe tumbles from the first storey window of a house, pursued by gunmen to the tune of Black Flag’s blistering punk fist pumper, “Rise Above.” To Point Blank’s credit it uses its soundtrack in unexpectedly clever ways. Not content with turning Black Flag into getaway music, we get Oran “Juice” Jones’s 80s R&B track “The Rain” played over the top of Grillo trading body blows with a thug in a car wash, and the opening, twangy bars of The Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday In Cambodia” are used to ramp up the suspicion levels during a flashback scene.
The music fits in very nicely with some of the stylistic flourishes Lynch throws our way in order to break out from what we might expect of a crime drama – from the staging of the aforementioned car wash punch up, to swirling his camera around 360 degrees as Paul packs a bag full of hospital supplies.
Anthony Mackie makes for a good lead as Paul, and we share his horror and uncertainty when faced with a decision he does not want to make, but knows he has to. He is our moral compass, and Mackie plays the classic everyman to a tee. While Frank Grillo, as Abe, is another tough but right thinking anti-hero. It’s the sort of role Grillo seems to be carving himself out a niche in, and so he should, because frankly he’s perfect at it. It would be interesting to see Grillo cast in something more purely action orientated in future. He would be a perfect foil (or adversary) in a Jason Statham / Scott Adkins / Dave Bautista movie.
Point Blank also demonstrates some admirable casting acumen with both Marcia Gay Harden and Boris McGiver in excellent form as the two detectives on the case. It’s nice to see a film acknowledge these roles as non-age specific and it seems fitting to cast older actors as these seasoned detectives. They bring believable authority and experience to proceedings.
Point Blank does hit a couple of stumbling blocks along the way. The slim run time of 86 minutes means that while it never outstays its welcome, it jettisons any chance of Paul and Abe truly connecting. Their relationship and burgeoning respect for each other occurs suddenly, like it probably happened off screen, and so it never quite hits the mark.
We also have a bit of a problem with tone once Paul and Abe meet infamous gangster Big D. He’s a bit too light and breezy for a man who’s been threatening to kill Abe for half the film. Big D is also a cinephile, and while it sure is fun to talk about how great William Friedkin is (because let’s face it, he is great), it’s not a particularly brilliant idea to reference vastly superior crime movies (To Live and Die In L.A., Sorcerer) in the middle of your own crime movie.
Despite the fluctuating tone and a final act that doesn’t quite satisfy, there’s still enough to Point Blank to make it worth a watch. Grillo’s presence elevates things and Point Blank’s very nature as a brisk piece of crime pulp means that while it might not be life changing, it is a solid example of what the genre is all about.
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★☆☆
‘Point Blank’ can currently be seen on Netflix – right HERE.