Saturday, September 3, 2011

A French Thriller American-Style

“Point Blank” Violent French Thriller American-Style

By Skip Sheffield

“Point Blank” is one of those “ripped from headlines” kind of stories reflective of our violent, cruel, chaotic world. It opens Friday at FAU’s Living Room Theaters along with the eye-opening documentary, “If a Tree Falls.”
This French thriller from Fred Cavaye begins with a bang: the attempted hit on a motorcyclist, and does not slow down until the final credits.
Gilles Lellouche plays Samuel, a young male nurse trainee who attends to a wounded man brought to the hospital under heavy guard. The victim is a tough criminal boss named Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem). He was wounded in an attempted assassination and there is a whole squad of bad guys who want to finish the job.
If this weren’t trouble enough, when the bad guys botch another attempt to kill Sartet, they snatch Samuel’s very pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) from the hospital and seize her as a hostage.
Fred Cavaye in 2008 wrote and directed a film called “Anything for Her” which was remade American-style as “The Next Three Days,” with Russell Crowe as a mild-mannered professor who is forced to take extreme measures to free his unjustly accused wife from jail.
In much the same spirit Samuel is compelled to rise to the occasion, forced into an alliance with the vengeful criminal Sardet to save his wife as bullets fly, bad guys chase, and cars screech and skid, fly through the streets while killers invade the subways of Paris.
Cavaye certainly keeps up the tension and the pace, but the incredible plot turns strain credulity. It’s as if Cavaye is trying to outdo the Americans in violence and high-speed mayhem.
Though I have not had a chance to see it, “If a Tree Falls” seems a much more worthy prospect for a thinking adult. It’s inspired by the true story of the rise and fall of the radical Earth Liberation Front, which resorted to violence and sabotage to further their radical environmentalist goals. Does the end justify the means, or were they just home-grown terrorists? Perhaps this Marshall Curry film will spur debate.

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