Doctor in distress
PAY ATTENTION. This sleek French thriller from the team behind Anything for Her doesn’t hang about. Samuel Pierret is a nurse’s aid and all-round good guy with a delicate and heavily pregnant wife. In the line of duty, he saves the wrong guy.
Sartet, his new patient, is a killer wanted by police and shady criminal types alike. Samuel’s wife is taken hostage as interested parties attempt to get at Sartet. But a slamming exchange sees the medic and his charge go on the run, with most of France snapping at their heels. This thing goes all the way to the top and bottom, apparently.
Crashing on to screens with a chase sequence and a booming traffic pile-up, Point Blank starts as it means to go on. An elaborate and hastily explained conspiracy touches on crooked cops, doctored wills, gypsy instigators, incriminating video footage and painful uses for a defibrillator, all delivered with bangs and wallops.
Roschdy Zem is suitably enigmatic as Sartet, but Point Blank mostly has no time for such niceties as character development or sense. The film’s rush of signifiers and tropes – expectant damsel in distress, an old-school policestation lockdown, last-minute rescues – are happy to arrange themselves in the shape of a Hitchcockian Wrong Man runaround.
If we had time to think, we might note how convoluted it all is. Point Blank’s need for speed and incident requires more peripheral characters than a Dickens novel and more backstory than the Tribes of Israel. The script, by director Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans, struggles to keep everything in play.
The results are frenetic and thrilling enough to partially mask an increasingly ludicrous narrative, but can’t quite dispel the notion that we’re watching a dafter, faster French spit-back of Taken. We’ll stick with Lee Marvin, thank you very much.