Doc­tor in dis­tress

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

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.

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