Action and suspense doesn’t need to be wrapped up in a grandiose plot to be effective. Sometimes it’s the small stories involving regular people that are the most gripping. Point Blank exemplifies this less-is-more phenomenon, offering high stakes, sympathetic characters and realistic action sequences. This film is an example of storytelling at its finest.
Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is working towards becoming a nurse at the local hospital and is also expecting his first child. His wife (Elena Anaya) is due to give birth any day now and her doctor has ordered her to avoid all strenuous activity. Their lives are turned upside down, however, when a mysterious patient named Sartet (Roschdy Zem) falls under Samuel’s care. Unfortunately, dangerous people want Sartet dead. To complicate matters, Samuel’s wife is kidnapped and won’t be returned unless Samuel can move Sartet out of the hospital to some place more accessible. Unable to go to the police and with on one to trust, Samuel has no choice but to comply and see this terrible situation through to the end and hope that he, his wife and child all make it out alive.
Point Blank’s plot won’t necessarily impress with its originality. The stakes are raised unbelievably high so fast that audiences may feel a little numb to the plot, having experienced such shocking situations in other stressful movies featuring average people in extraordinary circumstances. Moreover, in many ways, the film feels a little textbook in its telling of this fish-out-of-water story, but the plot isn’t what makes this film so effective – it’s the wonderfully realized and developed characters. The cast is completely sympathetic and thoroughly enjoyable to watch throughout.
Samuel’s situation is fantastic and is definitely a story worth telling, but it only works because Samuel’s relationship with his wife brought to life by excellent acting and honest writing. Even though Gilles Lellouche and Elena Anaya don’t share the screen much, they make the most of their time, creating a believable life together. Taking the time to lay this solid foundation allows the audience to really feel Samuel’s fear and panic at losing everything important in his life later on. So while it may seem overly dramatic in concept to threaten Samuel’s wife and unborn child, it works organically in practice thanks to thoughtful execution on the parts of writer and director Fred Cavayé and the entire cast.
The realistic presentation of the characters is also refreshing. They all feel very human in ways that movie characters sometimes overlook. For instance, even though the patient Sartet and Samuel are allies by circumstance, there’s really no reason for Sartet to hang around with Samuel. So it makes sense that Sartet is ready to pounce on his benefactor early on. Samuel isn’t a super man here either. A prolonged chase sequence that he narrowly escapes end in him vomiting from the effort. It’s these human weaknesses and more that add another layer of believability to the film.
Overall, Point Blank isn’t necessarily edgy, but it will keep audiences on the edge of their seats for the most part. The writing is smart and realistic and the entire cast turns in strong performances. This film is easily one of the better films moviegoers will find this summer.