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Point Blank: French thriller hits the bullseye

A man staggers down a street, leaving a trail of blood in his wake. Some way behind, two men give chase, pistols out. The camera frenetically moves between the predators and the prey, getting up close in the way popularised by the Jason Bourne films, giving a real sense of motion and urgency. The two men catch up to the first just as he is crossing the road. They raise their guns, he turns to face them… and out of nowhere a motorbike ploughs into him, catapulting the driver and pedestrian down the street in a ball of carnage. This is the dramatic opening to Point Break, with no explanation and pure visceral action resulting in a climax worth the price of admission alone. It does a fine job of setting the tone for this French action film, which relies on the fluidity of its action to drive the film.

The protagonist, a nurse called Samuel (played by Gilles Lellouche), is working a night shift at his hospital when someone attempts to finish the job the motorbiker didn’t quite manage on the man later identified as Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem). Samuel spots this in time and manages to save Hugo, going back to brag to his pregnant wife the next day about his heroism. Unfortunately, this is where things turn sour for Samuel. His wife is abducted and he is forced to break Hugo out of hospital, who is now under police guard. Once free, they then have to team up to evade two separate detective units; one honourable, and one distinctly not so. The story is not particularly inspiring, although I did like the characterisation of Samuel. The film recognises that he is not an action star and treats him correspondingly; he is considerably less agile and weaker than Hugo, which sets up a nice dynamic.

Lellouche gives a powerhouse performance as a man utterly out of his comfort zone and terrified for his wife and future child, and is compelling to watch. Zem has a more distant and professional air, again providing a nice contrast between the pair. The action scenes are tightly choreographed and shot up close and personal, making them feel so much more exciting than a panned CGI scene. As an action film it is very enjoyable towatch, even if the story cannot match the visuals.

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