Fred Cavayé made quite a stir with Pour Elle (Anything For Her), which was later remade into the Russell Crowe vehicle The Next Three Days. Now comes À bout portant, translated as Point Blank for American audiences, which will probably end up being remade as well sometime in the near future. And it’s not because it’s a fairly bland concept that has been done before in similar ways; it’s that much like Anything For Her it’s done so well that one imagines an English language translation could be nearly as good.
Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche) is a nurse who saves a thief (Roschdy Zem). His henchmen take Samuel’s pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) hostage, forcing him to bust their boss out of protective custody in a Parisian hospital. Focusing on getting his wife out of criminal hands and dead bodies piling up, Samuel has to evade the cops long enough to deliver the boss to safety and free his wife and unborn child.
What Cavayé does with a fairly unoriginal concept, of a man being forced to do something against his will because someone he loves is being held hostage, is fairly interesting. By condensing it into an hour long format he adds a sense of urgency into the proceedings. Cavaye uses an accelerated timeline so we get to feel Samuel’s urgency. There’s a level of intensity to it that a slower pace would take away from. Cavayé understands this immediately and has honed his film’s pace to match it accordingly. Everything is done with a sense of urgency; no moment is wasted and we’re hurtling forward at a relentless pace.
This is a fast, reckless film that is much more about pace than it is about story. It’s an interesting departure from Cavayé after Pour Elle, which had a much more methodical pace to it. It was also a longer film, as was the remake of it, so one imagines that Cavayé knows he can’t sustain such a fast and furious pace for more than the film’s 84 minute running time. This is a film that relies on a character making rash, quick decisions because he’s on a timer. Samuel isn’t thinking straight or planning anything out; this is a man figuring things out on the fly and reacting to obstacles in his way in a basic, primal way.
Lellouche isn’t given much of a developed character but he’s given someone easily relatable and understandable. He’s an ordinary man pushed into extraordinary circumstances; Cavayé gives him just enough character to make us like him and enough to know that he’s out of his league when it comes to dealing with the Parisian criminal underworld. It makes his actions that much easier to understand; this isn’t someone who’s been in any sort of situation like this before and thus the film’s events make sense in this regard. Samuel is an ordinary guy in the way action film heroes ceased to be a long time ago; it’s refreshing in a way.
It seems odd that Point Blank hasn’t had a remake scheduled; Hollywood seems to love remaking good to great foreign films with an American angle. But there’s nothing wrong with it; this is a great film and another take on it could be interesting.
A Behind the Scenes feature about the film is included. It runs a shade under 50 minute and is remarkably in depth about the film’s production to the point where it’s very spoiler heavy; it’s best viewed after watching the film.
The film’s Theatrical Trailer is included as well.
While Point Blank never found an audience on the art house circuit, DVD is the perfect place to find Fred Cavayé’s latest.
Magnolia presents Point Blank . Directed by Fred Cavayé. Starring Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya, Gérard Lanvin. Written by: Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans. Running time: 84 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: December 6, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.