As summer reaches its peak, so do the string of action movies flooding theaters and streaming services everywhere. With action-packed, adrenaline-filled thrills, action movies tend to have that special kick which makes them enjoyable no matter the actual quality of the movie. You just sit back and watch the action fill your screen.
And, as with most action movies, they’re more well-received by the average viewer than by film critics.
“Point Blank” is no exception.
A 2019 action thriller Netflix Original released July 12, “Point Blank” follows Paul Booker (Anthony Mackie), an everyman ER nurse assigned to oversee the recovery Abe Guevara (Frank Grillo), who’s implicated in the death of a prominent politician.
When Guevara’s brother, Mateo, kidnaps Paul’s pregnant wife, Taryn to coerce Paul into helping him and his brother pay off a debt to influential gangster, Big D, Paul’s thrown into an unlikely partnership with Guevara against rival gangs and police corruption.
The movie’s linchpin is a flashdrive, which at the start of the movie is in Guevara’s possession, containing identities and condemning evidence which can expose corrupt police officers.
By the end of the film, through twists which will remain unspoiled, we learn the story we’ve been told isn’t the full story and there’s something more lurking beneath the surface.
One of the film’s weaknesses is it begins to feed on an unearned emotional investment from the viewer. Several of the films twists and turns lack the punch which could’ve landed better had the characters either been more developed, or the story less reliant on emotional cheap shots.
However, if we consider it as it is, a standard action thriller, it’s still an entertaining watching experience.
In fact, what it does well is the spin it takes on the American action/thriller film in that the hero isn’t the typical action hero, but rather an everyday person who gets taken along on a ride they never really asked for. Though this trope has become more common in recent years, it’s still a refreshing deviation from the whole “action hero backlit by explosions” trope that’s, quite frankly, more contrived than not.
“Point Blank” doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, and we can at least respect it for that. We get an everyday, unexpected hero in Mackie’s portrayal of Booker which contrasts well with, and complements Grillo’s gritty, antihero Guevara.
I enjoyed Mackie’s character. You could feel that anxiety of being thrust into a situation you’re neither prepared nor equipped for, and you could feel the looming threat, and his desperate need, to get his wife back. It contrasts well with Grillo’s Guevara, who’s motivations lie in not only clearing his brother’s name, but in protecting his brother.
With a wonderfully simple concept, “Point Blank” director Joe Lynch succeeds in tying together the “unexpected hero has to ally with the bad guy for the greater good” trope with gritty action sequences that make for a respectable film.
I, for one, actually really enjoyed watching “Point Blank” despite its shortcomings. It’s a great, satisfying summer action flick with a promising premise, enjoyable thrills, and respectable action sequences that capture your attention.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]