Netflix's Point Blank Review
86 minutes of reasonably efficient thrills
Disappointingly, not another attempt at adapting the works of Donald E. Westlake - Netflix's Point Blank is not a remake of Lee Marvin's 1967 noir, but actually of the engaging 2010 French thriller, here boasting the likes of Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie.Over a decade ago, French cinema hit a distinctly Hollywood stride, like when Kurosawa re-envisaged Westerns as samurai flicks, in that a series of strong thrillers were made in a more American way. Still quintessentially French - most notably through a running motif that the protagonists largely remain grounded everyday individuals - and made all the more unusual for it, the likes of 2006's Tell No One, 2008's Anything for Her, 2010's Point Blank, and 2014's Mea Culpa defined this sub-genre, with a regular group of actors and directors making them - Fred Cavaye shot three of them; Vincent Lindon was in a couple of them, and Point Blank's star Gilles Lellouche was actually in three of them.
Over the years these - and many similar French thrillers that fit the remit - have unsurprisingly garnered the attention of Hollywood, in an ironic twist not wholly unlike when Kurosawa's western-themed samurai classics were then remade by Sergio Leone as actual westerns. Yet, of the above, only Anything for Her has thus far successfully been adapted into the effective Russel Crowe thriller, The Next Three Days, with Netflix now turning to Point Blank for inspiration in their original programming.
2010's Point Blank was an efficient 80 minute thriller, and 2019's wisely sticks to this format, enhancing the action, but still a taut 86 minutes
Anthony Mackie's Paul is a hospital nurse who gets wrapped up in a conspiracy involving Frank Grillo's wounded criminal, Abe, whose own life is on the line when he obtains a flash drive with a list of corrupt cops and subsequently gets framed for the murder of a DA. When Paul's pregnant wife gets drawn into the firing line, he has to become Abe's reluctant partner as they try to avoid both the authorities and the assassins closing in from every side.
2010's Point Blank was an extremely efficient 80 minute thriller, and 2019's remake wisely sticks to this format, adding a little more conspiratorial backdrop, and enhancing the action - dropping momentum only briefly for a humorous interlude deservedly praising Friedkin's underrated Sorcerer - but still reeling it in at a taut 86 minutes (Luc Besson could take heed from this after Anna). Director Joe Lynch, who had some gratuitous fun tooling up Salma Hayek for Everly, enjoys the glossy sheen of a modest Netflix Original production budget (Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos helps this punch above its weight), adding a modicum of style to the proceedings, a splash of punchy song numbers, and an increasing amount of (extremely) reluctant, unlikely partner banter, which former Winter Soldier enemies Mackay and Grillo completely sell.
There's nothing here you'd be overly enamoured with on the Big Screen, but this is a positive move for the underrated Grillo, who has only had a limited mainstream presence (cameo'ing in Endgame), but who has enjoyed a slew of decent straight-to-video actioners (making his lead debut in the best of the Purge movies), a successful run leading the hard-to-find MMA TV series Kingdom, and who appears to be a comfortable fit for Netflix (see also Netflix's Wheelman).
Even Mackie, who is heading to Disney Plus+ for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, has found a nice fit on Netflix, IO may have been a slow start, but he led the strong first opening of the last season of Black Mirror, and is starring in the second season of Netflix's Altered Carbon.
It's still quintessential Netflix fare, but mid-to-upper tier nevertheless
They make for an engaging pair, with Mackie convincing as the everyman, and Grillo enjoying his more expected ex-military style role, and keep the banter going, diving headfirst into a series of tough situations. It's still quintessential Netflix fare, but mid-to-upper tier nevertheless; a nice, efficient Friday night vehicle that boasts some decent leads and a solid enough plot (albeit familiar territory for anybody who saw the original recently). On the Big Screen it would have likely scored lower, but it's a solid Netflix 7.
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