Its innocuous title recalls some perfectly anonymous Steven Seagal flick, sure, but this frenzied French thriller from co-writer-director Fred Cavayé is much more rooted in humanistic impulses and recognizable motivations than most of its skull-cracking brethren on the other side of the Atlantic.
At the center of the film is male nurse Samuel (Gilles Lellouche, above), who unwittingly sets into motion a madcap chain of events when he saves the life of a mysterious thief, Hugo (Roschdy Zem). This then leads to his pregnant Spanish wife Nadia (Elena Anaya) being kidnapped by Hugo’s compatriots… or possibly someone wanting to kill him. Powered by on-the-fly deduction, a harried game of cat-and-mouse ensues, with an on-the-lam Hugo and Samuel being framed for a cop’s murder by rogue elements of the police force, led by Commandant Werner (Gérard Lanvin), for some reason at odds with their own.
The crooked-cop particulars here are in the end not very interesting, and handled with a dismissive air of obligation. And Point Blank‘s ridiculous final act, set amidst the hustle and bustle of a police station, basically cedes any reasonableness in favor of jumbled catharsis, marking the movie (in case there were some doubt) as a pure exercise in genre calisthenics. Still, the acting is invested (Lellouche is fantastic), and Cavayé’s stylish, briskly paced film is refreshingly less about chase-thrill razzmatazz and more about the innate human panic of its characters, especially Samuel. After all, what other recent American action movie can you recall in which an escape sequence ends with the protagonist throwing up? (Magnolia, unrated, 81 minutes)