Grosse Pointe Blank Review
“Hi I’m Martin Blank, remember me? I’m not married, I don’t have kids, and I’d blow your head off if someone paid me enough.”
Effortlessly blending punchy fists-and-guns assassin-vs-assassin action thrills with 80s-themed high school reunion romantic comedy, Grosse Pointe Blank is a rare, underrated gem.Boasting a career-high performance from John Cusack – back when he still had that spark and energy, and when he made it work for him too – and an acerbic, offbeat wit to its snappy screenplay, few films before or since have blended such a multitude of flavours with such precision. Co-written by Cusack, who undoubtedly improvised plenty too, particularly opposite a rare on-form Dan Ackroyd, the film introduced us to Cusack’s Martin Blank, a trademark character who Cusack attempted to resurrect several times across his career in various different guises (including the hit-and-miss unofficial sequel, War Inc.).On the eve of his 10th Anniversary High School reunion, and distracted by thoughts of his childhood sweetheart, Martin Blank takes his mind off his day-job just long enough to incur the wrath of both his employers and his vulture-like rivals, who are eager to see him taken off the playing field. Discovering that he’s lost the taste for his particular line of work, Blank has to navigate decade-old friendships – and potential love-of-your-life romance – all the while dodging bullets from the assassins hot on his trail. You see, his particular line of work just happens to be a professional assassin.
Delivering equal parts bullets and banter, this 1997 flick works almost as well as an engaging action thriller as it does a romantic comedy – and that’s even before you throw in the high school reunion element. With the perfect cast assembled, Cusack holds his own against a number of superb counterparts, from his increasingly distraught ex-shrink, played by Alan Arkin (on fine Herbert Lom/Dreyfuss from The Pink Panther form) to Dan Ackroyd’s over-zealous rival assassin; from a pre-Entourage Jeremy Piven as his old best friend from school, to a truly wacky Joan Cusack as his beleaguered PA. John Cusack also shares some great chemistry with Minnie Driver, playing his childhood sweetheart, who harbours more than a little grudge for him disappearing on prom night a decade earlier.
Great cast, great script, great score - what more could you want?
It’s not all just comedy, romance, and warm reminiscing – although the actual reunion itself has some fantastic, true-to-life interplay, like when Blank is confronted by an old school bully – as the film also boasts some surprise action, from a convenience-store shootout to a fabulously unexpected corridor kickboxing bout (yes, surprisingly, Cusack is a 20 year veteran and level 6 black belt in kickboxing). Grosse Pointe Blank injects just enough wit into the comedy, just enough thrills into the action, just enough poignancy into the drama, and just enough spark into the romance – and rounds it all off with one of the best soundtracks of all time.
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