Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967) – Sometimes you just have to go back to the bare basics to get the job done and get it done right. There’s nothing complicated about revenge films. They’re about as straight forward of an idea and emotion that you are bound to come across, and 1967’s Point Blank, the first adaptation of a classic novel, gave us one of cinema’s best no-nonsense cinematic badasses.
A vicious double cross leaves Walker (Lee Marvin) clinging for life and short 93 grand from the heist that he just helped pull. His partners only made one mistake: they should have killed him. One by one he tracks down everyone who betrayed him as he dismantles the notorious crime syndicate simply known as the Organization, brick by crooked brick.
People mistakenly assume that basic must mean bad but that isn’t the case here. A simple plot with pitch perfect tone and execution can be just as good if not better then the most complex of narratives. Point Blank is exactly that. It’s an underrated gem that announced the mainstream arrival of an underrated storyteller.
Working from an adaptation of the novel The Hunter (which has subsequently been turned 1999’s Payback, the Jason Statham vehicle Parker,a graphic novel, and influenced dozens of other various projects over the years), director John Boorman hits us with a juicy piece of film noir, but rather then embracing the cold greys and dark colours that are synonymous with that genre, Boorman drowns the screen in colour akin to something that you would see in French New Wave and Japanese cinema of the time. The dialogue which iss blunt, straight ahead and borderline deadpan. Our hero doesn’t suffer fools, put up with any bullshit, or waste time.
Marvin is the kind of steely, hard-driving leading man that you can’t look away from. At the peak of his starpower here (as both this and The Dirty Dozen were in theatres that year) he strides across the screen with a swagger befitting of a character in a western. Angie Dickinson is drop dead gorgeous and just as cold blooded and plays off Marvin very well. The likes of Keenan Wynn, Carol O’Connor, James Sikking, and John Vernon deliver great work in small roles.
While it plays a little quieter than most would expect from a crime thriller with Lee Marvin, Point Blank is the kind of stylish thriller that needs to be on any serious fan’s shelf.
Picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are top notch, and the special features include a feature length commentary track with director John Boorman and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (!), 2 vintage behind the scenes featurettes, and the theatrical trailer. (Dave Voigt)
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