A breakneck French thriller, Point Blank is so ridiculously successful at keeping its momentum going - and keeping the audience tense with suspense - that it's likely to leave you with your heart pounding, gasping for breath. So, a health advisory: Have a long chug of water when you leave the theater, and maybe try a little yoga, or meditation, too.
Like Tell No One, Guillaume Canet's 2006 man-on-the-run hit (soon to be Hollywoodized, with Ben Affleck directing and starring), Point Blank presents an adrenalin-fueled scenario in which an innocent Every Guy must contend with sinister creeps, gun-toting thugs, and clueless cops - leaping across rooftops, dodging cars, tearing into crowded Metro stations in order to save the day.
Coincidentally, it's the actor who played Tell No One's colorful sidekick - Bruno, the gruff, garrulous street gangster who helps François Cluzet out of a major jam - who takes the lead in Point Blank. As Samuel, a hospital nurse who unwittingly gets embroiled in some deadly business, Gilles Lellouche has our sympathy and support from the get-go. How can he not?
Here's this earnest, industrious nursing student, with a beautiful and very pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) at home, who saves a patient on the brink of expiration. Someone had cut off the man's oxygen supply, and if Samuel hadn't acted fast, he'd be dead.
Unfortunately for Samuel, there are people who really wanted this guy kaput. His name is Sartet (Roschdy Zem), and unless Samuel somehow sneaks him out of the hospital - Sartet's now under police guard - Samuel's wife, and the child she's carrying, are goners.
With a plot that involves a corrupt, cold-blooded police investigator and warring teams of gangsters, Point Blank ricochets around crazily; it jolts, it thrills. The music is propulsive, and the editing and action adroit. Director Fred Cavayé's first film, Pour Elle - also an ordinary-Joe-turned-improbable-action-hero romp - was remade as The Next Three Days, with Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks. Point Blank, Cavayé's second, is certain to be Hollywoodized, too.
But there's no reason to wait. Catch this bullet train now.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.