Wednesday 26 February 2014

Point Blank - film review

I've mentioned that excellent movie Point Blank a couple of times before on this blog, but only in passing. I first saw it as a student, and I've watched it twice since. Each time,I enjoy it all over again, quite a tribute to director John Boorman and a very good cast led by Lee Marvin, at his very best, and Angie Dickinson, in surely her most appealing film role.

There's a surreal quality about the film, right from the start, and this had sparked continuing debate about how best to interpret the story. I don't want to say too much on this topic, for fear of spoilers - and anyway, I enjoy the film as a gangster movie, as well as a study of character, obsession and revenge. To put it simply, Walker (Marvin) was involved in a heist, but his friend stole both his share of the money and his wife, leaving Walker for dead. Later, Walker seeks revenge - and also the return of his money.

Unusual as it is, the film offers enough conventional excitement to appeal to anyone who is simply looking for a good thriller. Boorman uses Alcatraz as a background for several key scenes, and this is absolutely fascinating. I've never been to San Francisco, far less Alcatraz, but every time I see the city in a film, I am reminded how much I'd like to go there. And every time I watch Point Blank, I wish Angie Dickinson had appeared in more films of similar calibre.

The use of stark, brilliant colours and spare, dramatic settings enhances the strangeness of the film, and helps to make it memorable. No wonder it's a classic. The screenplay is based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake, who was a talented and prolific writer. I've read some of his books, and have seen another film based on his work, but for me, Point Blank is the stand-out. Highly recommended.


Spade and Dagger said...

The remake with Mel Gibson is good also - the same tone and content, just a little more 'modern' looking. So not a necessary remake, but worth a look anyway.

J F Norris said...

I think this movie is vastly overrated. Contrary to everyone who thinks POINT BLANK uses flashbacks brilliantly I thought the movie's story structure is its biggest flaw. Maybe I was just cranky when I saw it. John Vernon does nothing but scream and shout in all his scenes, couldn't stand his performance. I just don't get what all the fuss is about.

Anonymous said...

I think of all the films based on the Parker novels, this was the best. Marvin has the necessary toughness (he was an ex-Marine who saw action in World War II) to play Parker (Walker). If you have never read any of the Parker novels, I recommend The Hunter (on which Point Blank was based), Slayground, and Butcher's Moon.