Point Blank Blu-ray Review
"Somebody's got to pay."
Point Blank is John Boorman's Lee Marvin-starring lean, mean revenge crime classic, defining a genre for half a century now.Donald E. Westlake's famous Parker character - the anti-hero protagonist of a number of pulp crime novels - has ended up as the protagonist of several films across the decades, although curiously only one ever had the rights to use the character's actual name (the poor 2013 Jason Statham-starring thriller, Parker). He was called Macklin in 1973's The Outfit, and played by Robert Duvall. And he was called Porter in 1999's Payback, and played by Mel Gibson (the director's cut is well worth checking out). And, of course, 1967's Point Blank - based on the novel The Hunter, which was also the source for Payback, saw him called Walker, and played by Lee Marvin. Double crossed and left for dead, Point Blank charts career criminal Walker's almost mythical rise from the ashes and return to the streets of LA.Confronting those who betrayed him, Walker is ostensibly intent only upon retrieving the relatively paltry sum of money that was stolen from him - a fact which nobody believes could possibly be his motivation for killing his way through the ranks of criminal hierarchy like some unstoppable machine. Marvin plays the role almost without saying a word, often conducting entire conversations with mere looks (reminiscent of another great man-on-a-vendetta, Michael Caine in Get Carter) whilst the likes of John Vernon and Angie Dickinson scramble around him. Boorman's Hollywood debut is a daring feature; an at times dream-like thriller - intercut by flashbacks to the past - which is the definition of lean efficiency; as brutal and relentless as its protagonist. It's one of the greatest revenge crime thrillers of all time.
Picture QualityThe Warner Premium Collection - which is, effectively, the HMV Premium Collection in the UK, since they have an exclusivity deal - offers up impressive packaging, but not always impressive packages, in part because the titles released, whilst only now making their UK debut, are largely titles which have been available in the US for some time (often years) and, in the case of the older titles, haven't received any kind of upgrade.
Thankfully Warner's 2014 US Region Free Blu-ray release of Point Blank was pretty decent, affording the classic a very good presentation which, whilst not a full remaster job, still delivered the film better than ever before, and it's that same 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition presentation, framed in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, that makes it to this UK Region Free Blu-ray release.
A faithful presentation which will suffice until we get a 4K remaster
Detail remains generally very impressive, lapping up the finer background textures and clothing weaves, despite the inherent limitations of the budget and shoot (which used a lot of location work under restricted condition), faltering only around the edges, when the often natural lighting can't keep up with the depth of shadows. Black levels are strong, but sometimes also overwhelming, whilst grain – particularly in a digital age – is pervasive. The bare locations picked to bring LA to life are restrained in terms of colour palette, leaving quite a gritty, cold look whose strongest tones come in the flavour of the more colourful outfits the women (and John Vernon) wear. With all the grain and even a few fleeting artefacts, it's far from demo territory, but for fans of the film, it is still a very pleasing, faithful and organic video presentation which will suffice until we get a 4K remaster.
Sound QualityThe UK release also delivers the same DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono track that the earlier 2014 US release boasted, which is a surprisingly rich and full-bodied affair considering its ostensibly technical limitations.
Despite the restrictions of a mono affair, it sounds pretty good
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the channels, and remains clear and coherent although is arguably far from the most important element, whilst effects, conversely, act as an integral character in the proceedings, often dominating the soundtrack – indeed this is evident right from the get-go when Walker's footsteps form a percussive backing for the images, and frequently apparent, particularly in the echoing Alcatraz flashbacks. Gunshots still have that 60s flavour, but boom and echo themselves, whilst cars screech and sirens scream. The moody and atypical score further fuels the piece, enhancing its tense atmosphere and, despite the restrictions of a mono affair, Point Blank sounds pretty damn good.
ExtrasThe HMV-exclusive UK Region Free Blu-ray release of Point Blank offers the same solid selection of extra features as the US predecessor, but promotes the whole release with a much more lavish overall package, including the Premium Collection's trademark artwork, hardened slipcover and art cards, complete with a DVD copy of the film and a digital code for UV download.
The same solid selection of extras as the US release but with a more lavish package
The extras themselves include a strong Audio Commentary by filmmaker John Boorman, who is paired up with another filmmaker, Steven Soderbergh, a self-professed fan of the film and of Boorman, who knows just what questions to ask and what topics to address in looking behind the making of this masterwork. It looks behind the characters and the actors that play them; the filming locations and restrictions, and the script and source novel, and makes for a great listen, worth a hundred EPK Featurettes. There are a couple of vintage Featurettes at well, The Rock Part 1 and 2, which take a few minutes to look at the arduous task of shooting on Alcatraz. The disc is rounded off by the film's Theatrical Trailer.
Blu-ray VerdictPoint Blank is one of the greatest revenge crime thrillers of all time
John Boorman's 1967 classic, Point Blank, introduced the world to Donald E. Westlake's iconic Parker character (here called Walker), and provided a defining performance for Lee Marvin to add to his list of famously implacable roles.
Added to HMV's exclusive Premium Collection, this UK Region Free Blu-ray debut for the film is a mirror image of the 2014 US Region Free release, only in a prettier package. Obviously ardent fans would have likely already picked that earlier edition up, but for those who haven't, this is a must-have.
You can buy Point Blank on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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