The ultimate arty 60s thriller, and we mean that as a compliment. John Boorman's second film (after HAVING A WILD WEEKEND) and his first US production, POINT BLANK layers some of the stylistic traits of the French New Wave onto a quintessentially American thriller. The result is a
breathtakingly composed genre classic, and a surprisingly complex allegory of modern urban life.
After pulling off a successful heist from the mob, Walker (Lee Marvin) is double-crossed by his wife (Sharon Acker) and his partner-in-crime (John Vernon), who shoots him and leaves him for dead in a cell of the now-deserted Alcatraz prison. Walker survives, escapes, and moves to L.A. There, he
begins a search for revenge (and for his share of the loot) that takes him through successively elevated ranks of an organized crime syndicate that is increasingly hard to distinguish from a legitimate business organization. After he tracks down his wife, she commmits suicide; he is then aided in
his quest by her sister, Chris (Angie Dickinson), and by a shadowy figure (Keenan Wynn) who steers Walker toward each fresh target with unerring accuracy.
A deceptively simple action film, POINT BLANK actually succeeds on many levels. As a thriller, it is fast, suspenseful, and peppered with the kind of brilliantly stylized violence now associated with Quentin Tarantino. On a purely visual level, it is an absolute treasure; Philip Lathrop's
widescreen compositions continually make you want to stop the film to take in particular images, or re-run particularly impressive scenes: Walker fighting two hoods in a nightclub, against a swirling psychedelic backdrop, to the strains of the house R&B band; Chris futilely pounding Walker with
her fists, until she sinks into a useless heap at his feet (he never flinches); Walker trashing a sports car just to intimidate his passenger.
Based on the novel by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake), POINT BLANK reaches beyond genre conventions to make pertinent social and existential observations. Its artsy effects (time lapses, echoing dialogue-flashbacks, etc.) suggest an alternative storyline, in which our hero dies in that opening
scene, and the entire revenge plot is a dream/wish-fulfilment experienced in his last moments of consciousness. And Walker, anachronistically seeking retribution according to a code that seems outmoded in contemporary, corporate LA, is a figure both brutal and poignant--a fully realized tragic
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The ultimate arty 60s thriller, and we mean that as a compliment. John Boorman's second film (after HAVING A WILD WEEKEND) and his first US production, POINT BLANK layers some of the stylistic traits of the French New Wave onto a quintessentially American… (more)