In the opening moments of Joe Lynch’s Point Blank, a man with no name (Frank Grill) crashes and falls out of a house, running away wounded with a gun in his hand. Black Flag, a well-known punk rock from the 1980’s, shouts the lyrics from their song, “Rise Above,” as this is happening.
That’s fitting because this remake rises above the crime thriller genre conventions thanks to its two leads (Grillo and Anthony Mackie, Marvel adversaries and real life pals), a witty script with propeller blades by Adam G. Simon, and a punk rock love of cinema’s past. Oh, and Markice Moore has the line of the year and steals the last third of the movie.
In this French film “re-imagining,” Paul (Mackie) must break the mysterious and wounded runaway Abe (Grillo) out of a local hospital via specific orders from the man’s brother, (Christian Cooke), who is holding Paul’s pregnant wife hostage. There are reasons and motives stuffed inside this endeavor, but I don’t want to spoil those for the virgin eyes of our next Netflix streamer poking around the internet for a clue.
What you then have are two completely different guys in Paul and Abe on the street together running from dirty cops, gunmen, and every other element stuck in their way on one crazy day. The stimulating film doesn’t slow down for a second, and therefore, doesn’t waste a second of your time.
You may have seen this makeup before, but not with this style or panache. Think of Midnight Run but with more bicep curls and swagger. A seemingly ordinary guy and a deadly one against every dirty rat in the city with one goal in mind: family.
You see, every action adventure film needs a pulse at the end of the hallway, something to bring it all in close and personal. Like Jeremy Rush did with the driver-daughter relationship in Netflix’s Wheelman, Lynch and Simon inject this wild funk ride with a heartfelt underbelly of family values, giving it extra weight behind those punches. And this film throws a stiff jab.
Highlights include a car wash fight between Grillo and a henchman about 30 minutes in that culminates in an elderly lady giving the duo a piece of her mind outside the building. This isn’t a tussle in the lobby over a deluxe or premium wash was ordered. These two throw down inside the washers, brushes, and wipers on top of a mini-van. If you had “watch Frank Grillo fight in a car wash” on your cinematic wish list, cross that thing already!
There’s a parking garage escape that has Abe telling Paul to stop crying, and a pawn shop shootout is eerily convincing as a plot spring moment.
What makes all of it work are Grillo and Mackie, trading chirps and one-liners like pros who have been making movies for years together. The best parts of the film are Abe and Paul verbally jabbing each other about their choices, lives, and pasts. These aren’t rhythm-killing slow dance dialogue sessions, yet kinetic on-the-move prose-tossings. Two completely different guys realizing their faults and working together. Abe is busting Paul’s chops, and then asking him for some painkillers so he can keep moving.
Grillo is built for this work, embodying a man of action that you don’t quite trust yet can’t take your eyes off. Outside of being built like a brick oven, he knows how to make dialogue sing and stick. Mackie has the comedic timing to pair up with Grillo and push him to better things. They are a good team and need to make more films as unlikely allies.
Marcia Gay Harden brings an A-list thump to the proceedings, lending the film a pair of smoky eyes and authority that doesn’t go unnoticed. Boris McGiver (House of Cards’ renegade reporter) puts his foot down as an older cop trying to work a case, among other things. Cooke has a combination of Sebastian Stan and young James Dean that sizzles. Teyonah Parris gives Paul’s pregnant wife, Taryn, some real spice.
Moore, though, is the one you will be talking about. Playing a drug kingpin who has an adoration for old school movies, the budding talent dishes the film some much-needed levity in the third act as a key player in Paul and Abe’s survival. He’s hilarious, fiery, and holds his own with the two leads. You’ll leave the movie needing William Friedkin’s films and more of Markice Moore.
It’s the adoration for old school cinema that makes Lynch’s film something to savor. The car chases have a design and look to them, but it’s not overly catchy, instead fitting the style of the movie. Simon’s dialogue crackles, but doesn’t overstuff the movements of the actors and plot. Mitch Lee’s score is the perfect truth serum to every conventional thriller, like a composer gleefully throwing his feet up instead of giving you something recycled.
Point Blank rises above the rest due to its idea of entertainment, something Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s production company, WarParty, is dialing in on the next couple of years. Proof that the movies can still be fun and not a place where everything must be taken seriously at all times.
Out of all the things I took away from this punk rock clip of cinema, cool fun would be the main idea.
There are surprises and layers of the human element woven into this flick, but it’s just a legs-up, guns-out thrill ride at the end of the day. 86 minutes of 100% pure cool.
Confession: I watched it twice, and it hasn’t even been streaming a day.