Customer Reviews: Point Blank
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Leave it to John Boorman to combine the stylized storytelling of French New Wave with American film noir in "Point Blank". This fascinating, challenging movie was made in 1967 when the film world was in the embrace of experimental film. Although it's quite different from "Blow Up", the storytelling style is just as stylized and unique. Lee Marvin plays Walker a criminal cheated out of $93,000 from a robbery of a mob like syndicate on Alcatraz by his best friend Reese(John Vernon). Participating in the heist/murder is Walker's young wife who has been having an affair with Reese. After getting the money, Reese shoots his friend, takes his wife and leaves him for dead on Alcatraz.

With the help of a mysterious benefactor (Keenan Wynn), Walker tracks down Reese exacting revenge in pursuit for what he's owed. When his wife commits suicide, Walker seeks out her sister Chris (Angie Dickinson)in hope of luring Reese out of hiding. From there this convoluted mystery spins more threads than director John Boorman knows what to do with but, surprisingly, he keeps the story from getting too tangled up.

Boorman and director Steven Soderbergh ("Ocean's 11", "Solaris", "Sex Lies and Videotape")provide a fascinating commentary track on the making of the movie. Boorman recalls that originally Lee Marvin wanted Peggy Lee for the role that Dickinson plays. While he went with Boorman's decision of Dickinson he wasn't very nice to his co-star which worked particularly during the scene where Dickinson starts hitting Marvin. Dickinson hit Marvin so hard he had bruises the next day but the actor stoically took the hits and the camera kept rolling. Boorman also discusses the stylized approach he uses in shooting the film including a sequence in Walker's deceased wife's apartment that where the body disappears in an almost dream like sequence, the furniture disappears and Marvin's clothes change. The studio was so concerned when it saw the first cut of this sequence it hired a psychologist to come talk to the director.

Featuring a stunning transfer from Warner Home Video and a nearly perfect brand new print of the film, "Point Blank" looks sharp with vivid colors. The mono soundtrack with some of its unusual sound effects (the sound of Walker's feet providing a percussive element to one sequence in particularly)also sounds remarkably clear. There's also a two part promo featurette "The Rock" which focuses on the shooting of the movie on Alcatraz (it was the first movie shot there since the prison closed in 1963 and had been turned into a state park). Using San Francisco, Santa Monica and Los Angeles as a backdrop, the film features stunning cinematography. If Don Siegel had watched the French New Wave prior to making some of his noir laced thrillers, this is what it might have looked like.

Remade with Mel Gibson as a more traditional looking thriller called "Payback", "Point Blank" features Marvin in one of his most stoic, powerful and grim performances. His character of Walker leaves a trail of dead bodies without remorse or regret in pursuit of what is rightfully his. Unlike a lot of films that incorporated the surreal touch of the French New Wave (such as Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" or any of Goddard's films), "Point Blank" has aged remarkably well with Boorman's stylized use of sets, camera set ups, flasbacks, etc. suggesting what's really going on inside of Walker's head. There's also a suggestion that maybe Walker didn't survive (particularly during the last sequence)and that "Point Blank" represents the dying delusion of a man thirsting for revenge. A marvelous film filled with many, many levels, this classic thriller does not have a straight forward narrative so if you're expecting a realistic film noir or story, you should look elsewhere.
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on July 31, 2005
It's about time this movie got released on DVD.

It's odd that a film could spawn a remake ("Payback"), a glib nod ("Grosse Pointe Blank") and countless homages ("The Limey," among others) and still be as underseen as "Point Blank."

The lack of a disc certainly didn't help its low profile, but of course this is a challenging, idiosyncratic movie, even three decades later. The plot is simple -- a crook is betrayed by his wife and partner and spends the rest of the movie trying to get what he's owed -- but the editing and narrative structure is unusual. What in the world did audiences possibly make of this back when it was first released?

It's a remarkable film, as startling and innovative as Richard Lester's "Petulia," although admittedly it's thematically much less complex.

This edition is excellent, too. Great sound, great picture and a fantastic commentary by director John Boorman and big-time "Point" fan Steven Soderbergh, who laughingly admits to Boorman that he's ripped this movie off more than a few times. Their chat is more technical than gossipy and deals heavily with the editing, the production (the script was only 70 pages long), the studio's concerns about the picture, the actors, violence, surrealism (is it all a dream?) and Boorman's elaborate use of color (the tones of clothing and sets intensify over the course of the film).

I've gotten a lot of good DVD's this year but in terms of content, presentation and extas, this is one of the best.
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on August 10, 2005
This review is for the Warner Brothers DVD released in 2005.

`Point Blank' starts out in an abandoned Alcatraz Prison circa 1967 where Walker (Lee Marvin), his wife, and Mal Reese (John Vernon - probably best remembered as Dean Wormer in `Animal House') rob an apparently illegal money payoff. Once the money is counted, Reese shoots Walker in a prison cell leaving him for dead and takes Walker's $93,000. Walker recovers from the shooting and with the help of a stranger named Yost (Keenan Wynn), Walker finds out that Reese and Walker's wife ran off to Los Angeles and Reese is now a big player in a major crime syndicate. This sets up the rest of the movie where Walker hunts down Reese but also wants all of this $93,000 back.

The movie is clearly dark in mood and substance, even though it was filmed in vibrant color. Angie Dickenson plays the role of Walker's sister-in-law Chris, who helps him find Reese. The chemistry between Chris and Walker seems overtly empty and melancholy. An animated Carroll O'Conner (best known for playing Archie Bunker in 'All in the Family') brings a lot of energy to the last segment of the movie. The film has an unmistakably late `60's look with fast and chaotic flashbacks and over-accentuated sound effects - such as loud, reverberating footsteps when an intensely focused Lee Marvin is hunting down Reese. This movie is more sexual and violent than noir films of the `40's and `50's, but is still restrained by today's standards. The film's biggest asset is how Lee Marvin confronts and handles his adversaries - each situation is original and effective, but not over the top. The plot as a whole has very few major surprises, although there is one minor twist in the end. Overall, it's an extremely good movie, but not a great one, but I still strongly recommend it.

As for the DVD, the transfer is superb. The picture quality is free of even the tiniest of flaws and the color is bright and vivid and the sharpness is terrific for a film this old. The audio is also excellent. There is option real-time commentary by director John Boorman and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, plus two short features, both made when the film was being shot in the late `60's entitled the Rock Part I &II. These two documentaries deal with the filming of the scenes on Alcatraz that were used in `Point Blank'. Part II also contains a short interview with a former prisoner who did time on "The Rock"..

Movie: B+

DVD Quality: A+
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on April 11, 2010
"Point Blank" is one of the most fascinating films to ever emerge from the 1960s. It's a classic, though granted an acquired taste, that will leave many film-going novices scratching their heads. I understand why some viewers have difficulty "getting" this 1967 work. It's a stark, bare as bone, minimalist revenge film with hip style to spare. It's experimental and brutal, with an uncompromising conclusion that will leave you questioning all that came before.

Directed by John Boorman early in his career (this was his second film, with Hell in the Pacific and Deliverance still to come), it's an American produced, French New Wave-inspired, psychedelic, dream-like thriller sculpted by a youthful British craftsman. Throw into this spicy brew a hungover Lee Marvin with an edge as sharp as a flint arrow, and you have the always challenging "Point Blank." British film critics recently called this one of the 100 greatest films ever made and, you know, they're not far from the truth.

The story's fairly basic, as Marvin is double-crossed by his wife and best friend and left for dead on Alcatraz, of all places. The abandoned prison, closed in 1963, makes a nice locale for money drops. Slugs in his gut, somehow Marvin survives, rising from the ashes like a demonic Phoenix, stylish shoes loudly clacking down an endless hallway in search of prey. With grim determination, hate pumping through his veins, he circles his marks like a scythe-carrying specter. Not only does he wish revenge, he wants his money, in this case $93,000 owed him from the heist. This must be scissored from the talons of "The Organization," a thinly veiled Hollywood version of the Mafia, with gangsters adorned in stylish suits, flying to and fro on private jets, comfortably reclining on leather chairs in penthouse suites.

Marvin, at the peak of menace (his two prior films were The Professionals (Special Edition) and The Dirty Dozen), wades into the goons like a razor through hot butter. As Walker, oozing hostility and cynicism, he carves a trademark performance that will be known for as long as we remember him. A tough guy in real life - Marvin was a veteran of the Pacific - he had cut his teeth for years in villainous supporting roles, easily stealing scenes from the likes of John Wayne, Marlon Brando and Spencer Tracy. Standing next to him, these storied giants were milquetoast. You have the disorienting feeling in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,The Wild One and Bad Day at Black Rock, that he could easily pummel his better known co-stars if not for that irritating script. There was an uncomfortably evil spark in his eyes - part white trash and wolverine killer - that bubbled to the surface like scalding coffee served black (yes, a reference to The Big Heat). I think the fury was real, lacking in pretension, and never has a film fit an actor more comfortably.

He has great support from John Vernon (in his debut role) as the back-stabbing best friend, and the lovely Angie Dickinson, at the height of her considerable allure, as his sister-in-law. They have an enraged scene together, one of the most memorable in history, where she assaults him. Marvin dodges a few blows, but takes the brunt and rarely flinches. After roughly a minute, Angie drops to the floor in exhaustion, and they eventually fall into bed. It's one of the first moments in film history where a psychological connection is made between sex and violence, something Bonnie and Clyde has been given credit for, though ironically both films were released the same month.

I could go on, noting the hilarious scenes between Marvin and Carroll O'Connor, Marvin throwing a naked man over a balcony followed by the shot of teenage girls staring in disbelief, the peculiar flashback when Marvin meets his wife, surrounded by what appears to be a pack of aroused friends. Unlike its remake Payback, a vastly inferior film though with a fine performance by Mel Gibson, there's not a single predictable moment in "Point Blank." There's a rebellious creativity, combined with dadaist editing and neo-noir choreography. "Point Break" is unlike any action film ever seen before. Rarely has such a by-the-numbers screenplay been told with such an artistic eye, owing much to the experimental decade it was made. It's telling that after 40-plus years, "Point Blank" is still discussed and, most importantly, it's still very, very cool. Lee Marvin's greatest film, which says a lot.
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on April 16, 2005
No, it's not full of Raymond Chandler style simile's. No, there's no voiceover. There's no Bogie or Bacall, but Lee Marvin is more believable taking on the syndicate in this movie than Bogie could ever be. And Angie Dickinson serves quite nicely as replacement eye candy for Lauren Bacall, thank you. The soundtrack is very good, too.

The depiction of the corporatized mob is also brilliant. Carroll O'Connor is excellent as the surprisingly energetic mob middle manager.

I saw an interview with Schlesinger in which he said that Lee Marvin completely improvised his silence in the scene where he meets up again with his girlfriend. He was supposed to say some fairly standard things ripping her for leaving him but decided it'd play better not saying a thing. It does.
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on April 13, 2001
Do not EVEN think you have seen this film if you have only seen it in a "pan and scan" version. This is one of the most meticulously composed ultra-wide Panavision pictures you are likely to see, and it's excruciating to see half the frame lopped off. Other reviewers have said this film seems modern, which is to say current. Fortunately, the wardrobe was kept pretty low-key for the year, 1967, which helps enormously. (Take a look at "Taxi Driver" if you want to cringe at some clothes.) If a person can have a single favorite movie, this is mine. I encountered John Boorman at a sneak of "Excalibur" when it was released, and gushed all over the poor man about "Point Blank". I think this was only his second feature, and given the path his career took afterwards, this film is really an aberration; he never did anything like it again. "Point Blank" was ignored when it was released (everybody was out seeing "Bonnie and Clyde" ;-). People couldn't stop talking about Antonioni's "Blow Up" (which came out at about the same time), asking "What did it mean?" Same here; I have no idea. See this movie.
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on October 27, 2005
Taciturn tough guy Lee Marvin playing career criminal Walker speaks volumes with his silence and scowls in the 1967 psychedelic era action thiller "Point Blank". Double crossed, shot and left for dead in the desolete Alcatraz prison during a heist by his unfaithful wife and best friend Mal Reese played by John Vernon, he somehow survives.

Resurrected he endeavors to recover the $93,000 that was his share of the Alcatraz robbery. Vernon it seems was indebted to an organization to the tune of $150,000. The organization spearheaded by suave Lloyd Bochner and the earthy Carroll O'Connor maintains a fortress like apartment complex in Los Angeles with Vernon ensconced in it's penthouse.

Aided by sister in law the sexy Angie Dickinson, Marvin savagely battles his way up the hierarchy of the organization to get his money which they are reluctant to give up. He gets tipped off to the wherabouts of the heads of the organization by lawman Yost played by Keenan Wynn.

Director John Boorman crafts a modern day taut film noir type thriller which is sleek and streamlined and effectively utilizes the tenacious personna of Lee Marvin.
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on December 1, 2000
Mr Marvin is at his best in this noirish movie. He has the best walk, the biggest gun, and a mind as sharp as a cut-throat razor.He's out for revenge because he's been betrayed by his BEST FRIEND and HIS WIFE. LOOK OUT! But there is much to admire and enjoy in all the bit parts, and especially the recurring images of glass, and cleanliness in this all too alien urban landscape. The one act of human tenderness by our anti-hero is committed in an apartment which has been completely trashed. An interesting document of the sixties as well as an entertaining film.
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on September 26, 2014
I've been a big fan of this movie for many years, long before the advent of DVD let alone Blu-Ray. I used to go and see it at the repertory cinema often - the first time, I was stunned by the quasi-hallucinatory cinematography of it. A totally unique film that's never been replicated before or since (although The Limey was a good attempt)

Frankly the story is incidental and not worth summarising or even paying much attention to. The cinematic style of it is what makes it so riveting both then and now - an excellent psychedelic time-capsule of late `60s LA punctuated by stunning performances from the likes of Marvin, Dickinson and others.

The DVD was a huge let-down when released. Despite the accolades that it had at the time, it had a "watery" non-filmic quality which made it dull and tiresome to watch even once. Without capturing the garish color and mind-bending trippiness of the film, you were reduced to following the plot which, like I said, is the least interesting aspect of it.

The Blu-Ray is MILES superior to the DVD. The integrity of every component in this movie that I've discussed above is perfectly captured; the emotional power of it is all there in bucketloads. The colors are strong and vivid and in true Blu-ray style you notice subtleties that you hadn't noticed before (e.g. the green chairs in the corporate offices, Angie Dickinson's expression after the "what's my last name" exchange).

The overall quality is very filmic (no DNR etc) and good grain where appropriate. It looks like a strong 35 mm print that has been run a few times but has plenty of life left. So no Criterion day-it-was-released look but more than satisfactory. Ideally, I would like Criterion to get hold of this as I think they would clearly be able to make an improvement but this is a minor quibble.

For fans of `60s cinema and experimental film-making, this Blu-Ray edition will thoroughly satisfy. I no longer feel the need to see this in a movie house anymore unless there's a full restoration of the original 35mm print (which does happen from time to time)
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on September 6, 1999
John Boorman's first "American" film, Point Blank still influences filmmakers, such as Martin Scorsese, to this day. Lee Marvin, in one of his best performances, stars as Walker, a man who seemingly comes back from the dead to seek revenge on the friend who betrayed him and recover the 93 grand that he was cheated out of. Walker is pure momentum, a relentless driving force that is virtually unstoppable. He acts almost like anti-matter, his mere presence on the scene causes the world around him, and the people in it, to fall apart. John Boorman based his concept of the character on Lee Marvin's screen persona and certain aspects of his real personality. Angie Dickinson is transcendentally HOT, John Vernon makes his screen debut, Keenan Wynn and Carol O'Connor do great work. Point Blank has a unique, modernistic style all its own - part Antonioni, part Kiss of Death, part science fiction ghost story. Current action films pale in comparrison. Stay away from the crappy remake starring Melvin Gibson and watch POINTY BLANK instead. "You're a very bad man, Walker!"
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