When you think of French cinema their inimitable sense of style is the first thing that comes to mind. The last thing you would connect with French cinema is the action movie and its with good reason as very few directors from the country that dabble in the genre, other than the 2009 zombie film (The Horde) which was compared to die hard, the only director that comes to mind is Luc Besson. There is one other man plying his trade in this under-represented genre – Fred Cavayé, the man behind Anything for Her and Point Blank.

Gilles Lellouche plays Samuel a nurse’s aide who is excited to progress up the career ladder at work and has a beautiful pregnant wife at home. Everything a middle class Parisian wants from life, until one day at work a mysterious man comes in after a road accident. In a massive case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Samuel saves the life of the mysterious stranger only to be thanked by being followed home, knocked out and have his wife, Nadia (Elena Anaya), kidnapped. What started as a good deed in saving someone’s life has put Samuel in a place where he is charged with the responsibility of getting the man who he saved, Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem), out of the hospital and to a neutral meeting point. Along the way he is plunged into a world of violence, police corruption and betrayal.

Going back to Cavayé’s debut film – Anything for Her – we have a film that was big, bold, exciting but silly in its execution. The film took someone as innocuous as a school teacher and turned him into an action hero taking on the task of breaking his wife out of prison. The way in which this was achieved was nothing shy of ludicrous, it was almost as if the film proposed that deep within every man and woman lays a sleeping beast who knew how to best even the most ridiculous of circumstances.

The same theme is continued in Point Blank; it takes a male nurse and drops him into a world that is the antithesis to the one he knows. The justification might be the same between films in wanting to free a partner from their harsh circumstances, but in point blank it is done with a greater level of believability. Samuel never becomes the Jason Bourne that Julien did in Anything for Her. The protagonist is always scared, anxious and naive and because of this always believable.

That’s not to say all the fat was trimmed from the film as a few scenes that do nothing but make you laugh. The first scene shows a car-jacking achieved merely by shouting the words don’t move without the aid of any weapon. The second is a scene where Nadia is asking where she is and who her captors are only to be met with the response of shut up, it was like a parent telling their noisy child to be quiet. There’s more in that occurrence in that scene, the woman who told Samuel’s wife to shut up starts smoking to look overpowering and moody, I assume, only to be swiftly told that she isn’t allowed to smoke inside This begs the question why smoke if you know you’ll have to stop soon after. It’s in these two scenes that the poor dialogue comes to the fore, you don’t really notice at any other point in the film because you become so firmly strapped in for the ride.

Point Blank is only 84 minutes long and in that short amount of time us viewers experience what can only be described as an adrenaline fuelled thrill ride. The editing is quick, the story is straight to the point and you leave feeling full and satisfied. It would’ve been even better if the film didn’t over elaborate and finished when the tension reached its peak instead of the … years later climax that was resorted to here. Back to the pacing, the only problem with the film being so relentless is that is never slows down enough to flesh out the characters; the characters stories become the substitute to their personalities.

Point Black may not be the most intelligent film but its fun, tense and exciting without ever lowering itself to the levels of stupid entertainment that Hollywood values so highly. This is the sort of film that America used to be brilliant at. Now for our adrenaline on the silver screen we have the choice of Michael Bay and his noisy brand of cinema or the endless horde of comic book adaptations. Judging the film of its own credits and looking beyond the films flaws you will find plenty to satiate your desire for excitement. Point Blank never overstays its welcome it is exactly long as it needs to be, nothing more nothing less.

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