Thursday 4 December 2014

Point Blank [1967]

British filmmaker John Boorman created a work of pop-cultural significance with Point Blank – it went on to have a high impact on the action/thriller genre, even though it was largely ignored upon its release. He infused art-house sensibilities into it, thus making this gritty, brutal and high-voltage thriller a stylish film with existential undercurrents. That the principal protagonist was anything but a conventional good guy, rather a cold-blooded anti-hero with sociopathic tendencies, placed this alongside such influential action thrillers as Get Carter and Dirty Harry, among others. Based on Donald E. Westlake’s pulp crime novel The Hunter, it tells a gripping tale of revenge and personal justice taken to a violent climax with unrelenting ferocity. Walker (Lee Mervin), a professional criminal, gets a severely raw deal after a robbery at Alcatraz when he's shot and left for dead by his friend Mal (John Vernon), who takes off with his share of loot along with his wife (Sharon Acker). Now, having recovered, he’s back with the sole objective of getting back his 93 grand, and he’s ready to take down LA’s powerful underworld organization if need be. Along the way he gets unlikely help from Chris (Angie Dickinson), his now dead wife’s beautiful sister and Mal’s mistress, and a mysterious man (Keenan Wynn) who seems to know the whereabouts of all key players. The storyline was too outrageous to be believable, but Boorman sure made it a compelling ride. Mervin was perfect as Walker, whose icy and menacing demeanour, and complete lack of any attachments or emotions, seemed closer to a cyborg than a person. Usage of jump cuts and freeze frames might have bordered on pretentiousness, but worked in this case. Mel Gibson reprised Mervin’s role in the 1999 film Payback.

Director: John Boorman
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Gangster Film
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Yes, this are certainly existential undercurrents in this unique and will roller coaster of a ride arthouse thriller, which by any barometer of measurement should be counted among Boorman's best films, along with HOPE AND GLORY, DELIVERANCE and EXCALIBUR. As always Shubhajit, you paint a vivid picture of this visceral work.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. I'm yet to be fully accustomed to Boorman's other films, but this surely proved darn influential in the action/thriller genre for years to come.