Despite the presence of two popular MCU stars, Marcia Gay Harden proves to be the most potent player in this crime actioner.
Don’t confuse Netflix’ new thriller with John Boorman’s 1967 film of the same name. That movie, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Keenan Wynn is a bonafide classic. What’s even more confusing is that the Netflix “Point Blank” is, in fact, a remake of a 2010 French film also named “Point Blank (À bout portant).” And because titles can’t be copyrighted, I suppose, “Mayhem” and “Everly” director Joe Lynch and his producers decided to keep the familiar name in delivering a generic crime action movie saved only by a vicious turn from Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden.
When a criminal named Abe (Frank Grillo) is shot and hit by a car, he’s taken to a hospital where he’s cared for by Paul (Anthony Mackie), a nurse with a wife at home expecting their first child any minute. Abe’s brother Mateo (Christian Cooke) decides to kidnap Paul’s wife and force Paul to secret Abe out of the hospital. And when Paul manages to help Abe escape, under the noses of the police, the chase is on. Abe and Paul become unwitting partners, as they traverse the city.
In pursuit are two cops played by Harden and “House of Cards” regular Boris McGiver. Harden’s officer has an ax to grind and is determined to stop at nothing to bring Abe to justice, even if that means taking Paul down in the process. Without spoiling the film’s big twist, it’s enough to say that Harden plays a key role here. Her performance is impressive, especially given the televisual nature of this smallish production.
Frank Grillo, whose WarParty Films production company produced the film, is a great screen presence. The actor has risen since his memorable appearances in the MCU and his impactful work in the “Purge” sequels. “Point Blank” isn’t the best example of what he can do. As Abe, Grillo is required to be injured for most of the movie. This blunts his best asset—his physicality. Most of the time, he’s getting beat down and relies on Paul to shoot him up with painkillers. It’s almost like “Crank” but at a much lower voltage.
Still, Mackie is very likable as the nurse thrown into the situation to save his wife. But his charisma is also hampered because he too is beaten down and abused for the bulk of the running time. It’s frustrating to see an actor, who has just been given Captain America’s shield in “Endgame,” sit on his hands and watch as Grillo dukes it out. In one scene, Mackie’s Paul has trouble finding something to hit an attacker who is pummeling Grillo’s Abe in an active cash wash. After some stops and starts, Paul finally uses a broom or something to clock the guy. Of course, by that time, Abe is beaten and bloodied. The thought process that went into that whole sequence was way off.
But when Harden is on screen the movie takes on a menacing edge. She’s ruthless and every match for the injured Grillo. I wanted to see more of her instead of frustrating clashes with various tough guys.
“Point Blank” is a garden-variety action thriller that Netflix is able to crank out and keep the subscriber base in new content. As I said in a Daily Dose posting at the end of last year, Netflix’ unique combination of content together with cinematic flourishes makes it the best innovator in the marketplace. While they may produce several derivative productions every year, the streaming giant is able aside funds for more higher quality films, like last year’s cinematic masterpiece “Roma.” This means that while “Point Blank” isn’t great, it’s necessary.