Two Cents Takes a Hit POINT BLANK

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick:

Point Blank combines a bunch of things that we here at Cinapse are awfully fond of.

For starters, Frank Grillo. Grillo’s been in the game for a long time, but only in the last few years have directors and producers really started to realize just how much he can bring to a role. He’s starred in his own show, Kingdom, headlined in The Purge franchise, battled Iko Uwais in a Skyline sequel, fought Captain America in an elevator, and tore up the streets in Wheelman. When Frank Grillo shows up in a movie, we pay attention.

The same goes for Anthony Mackie, one of the busiest guys in showbiz right now. The former Falcon, current Captain, has been plugging away since 8 Mile almost 20 years ago (Sidenote: Fuck.) amassing an impressive resume until people finally caught on when he started showing up steadily in the MCU. Mackie’s everywhere these days, and we’re always happy to see him.

And then there’s Joe Lynch, Point Blank’s genre-friendly director. Lynch has been cultishly adored since his debut, Wrong Turn 2, particularly through his collaborations with fellow indie horror acolyte Adam Green. It’s been exciting to watch Lynch slowly push into the mainstream, collaborating with everyone from Salma Hayek (Everly) and Steven Yeun (Mayhem) and now directing a big splashy action movie.

Point Blank, a remake of a 2010 French film, stars Mackie as Paul, an ER nurse just looking to quietly get through the next few days until his wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris) can give birth to their first child. But Paul’s life turns upside down one day when comatose career-criminal Abe (Frank Grillo) is wheeled into the hospital and placed under his care. Very shortly thereafter, Taryn is abducted by a masked man who gives Paul a clear directive: Get Abe out of the hospital, or Taryn and the baby die.

Paul and Abe’s journey comes to involve dirty cops, angry gangsters, and a conspiracy that spans the entire city. In classic buddy movie fashion, the odd-couple learn that maybe they aren’t so different, but will that be enough to survive what’s coming for them? — Brendan

Next Week’s Pick:

In recent weeks, (Two Cents alum) Nicolas Winding Refn’s hard-hitting saga Too Old To Die Young, which the director calls his “13 hour movie”, has hit the cinema landscape, offering a new take on what a film can be (in this case, a TV series).

While we’d love to cover this for Two Cents, it seems a tall order so we decided to settle for Never Too Young To Die, the NC-17 spy action classic (?) starring John Stamos as Lance Stargrove as he takes on a murderous Gene Simmons (yes, that Gene Simmons) to avenge his dad, James Bond (well… George Lazenby). It promises to be a crazy ride, so join us watching on Amazon Prime! — Austin

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at) anytime before midnight on Thursday!

The Team

Ed Travis:

I’m not here to tell you Joe Lynch’s Point Blank is great. It is not that. It is, however, precisely my kind of movie, and exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of the kind of thing I enjoy just magically becoming available for me to consume on a streaming service one day out of the blue. It’s worth noting that I started watching this movie sometime around 1 AM and powered straight through with a grin on my face. What’s not great? Quite a bit of the dialogue is wince-inducing or undercooked. And tonally we’re swinging wildly from what are supposed to be emotional character moments to wacky PT Cruiser chase sequences and back again. But Point Blank has character. Frank Grillo continues to be my guy, and his interplay with Anthony Mackie is fun. Marcia Gay Harden is having a blast here playing a psychopathic detective and she really elevates this project. There’s also a second tier character who happens to be a gangster and a cinephile who forces his gang to watch William Friedkin movies and I just adored this little flourish. Buddy action comedies are a particular soft spot of mine and while Point Blank never rises to the level of Stuber, both are fine examples of how the formula can function and thrive in the modern movie landscape.(@Ed_Travis)

Justin Harlan:

I like Joe Lynch. I like Frank Grillo. I like Anthony Mackie. I like action. What’s not to like here?

While this isn’t some revolutionary watch or even my favorite Joe Lynch film, Point Blank is a solid way to spend an evening. There are some laughs, there’s a ton of action, and all of the players are fantastic. Besides Grillo and Mackie, the rest of the cast does a great job… 

Teyonah Parris is stellar and Marcia Gay Harden is a fantastically unlikable bitch. All in all, a fun time. Hard not to have some fun with this one! (@thepaintedman)

Brendan Foley:

I wish I liked Joe Lynch movies. I certainly like the movies that I think he’s trying to make. I love the movies he loves and proudly parrots, nothing wrong with that. Seems like a heckuva nice guy and I’m glad he’s managed to build a career and fanbase on his own terms. But even a by-the-numbers buddy programmer like Point Blank needs some modicum of self-control and careful tone management, and Lynch instead just barrels right through. A character will press a loaded gun to a pregnant woman’s belly in one scene, and in the next scene we are meant to empathize with that character’s fear and uncertainty. Maybe there’s a way to make that work, but in a movie that is so much a cartoon, the momentary detours into brutal violence and emotional anguish just fall flat.

As a storyteller, Lynch bungles the basic beats of the thing. Point Blank is built around, not so much a twist, as a perspective shift. The movie’s structured in such a way that you’re clearly meant to be afraid of Grillo’s character and the world he represents, and only to gradually realize that the outlaws and criminals are upstanding (so far as that goes) and who the true threat is. That’s a fine, if familiar, idea, only, the second Grillo opens his mouth, you know he can’t be the villain, and so instead you just watch the movie spin its wheels for the majority of its not-long runtime until it’s finally time to play that card.

Point Blank has energy, and a strong central duo. The surprisingly limited number of action scenes are well-executed without having any real standout moments. By the time we get to the supposedly-murderous gangsters who are actually Friedkin-loving sweethearts, I was mostly just bored.(@theTrueBrendanF)

Next Week’s pick:
Never Yoo Young to Die —

Previous post Fantasia 2019: A Chat with Diana Prince aka Darcy the Mail Girl from The Last Drive-in
Next post Make it a Double: THE LION KING & A FAR OFF PLACE