Film of the week

Point Blank (15)

4.00

Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Elena Anaya, Gerars Lanvin

The French writer-director Fred Cavayé has got the right stuff. His debut feature, the thriller Anything for Her (2008), was about a man so convinced of his wife's innocence that he breaks her out of prison. Hollywood liked it enough to remake it almost immediately as The Next Three Days, with Russell Crowe playing the unassuming Pittsburgh academic who turns daredevil escape artist. Cavayé's second film, Point Blank, is not unlike his first in depicting an ordinary man who goes to desperate lengths – assaulting police officers, kidnapping felons, jumping in front of trains – in order to save his wife. The film-maker is perhaps intent on creating a mini-genre of his own: the uxorious chase thriller.

He treats both parts of his job title with equal seriousness. As writer (partnered here by Guillaume Lemans) he constructs twisted plots whose sometimes tenuous hold on plausibility is underpinned by his muscular work as director. Some thrillers take the softly-softly approach to generating tension. Not this one. Cavayé hits the ground running with a tremendous chase scene as a man, nursing a gut wound, is pursued through night-time Paris by two gunmen. They're just about to finish him off in a busy underpass when a speeding motorcyclist collides with their quarry and pitches him into the middle of next week. "Job done", think the assassins, and slope off into the dark.

But our fugitive is not dead after all, fetching up in a hospital surrounded by breathing apparatus and attended by a trainee nurse, Samuel (Gilles Lellouche), a personable guy whose wife is pregnant with their first child. The police are called in after Samuel foils a murder attempt on the stricken fugitive, who turns out to be a notorious safecracker named Sartet (Roschdy Zem). Samuel, the have-a-go-hero, gets a ticking-off from his snitty superior, of course, because his priority should have been consulting the doctor before saving the patient (and we thought our health service was in bad shape). If only that was an end of it; instead, Samuel gets coldcocked in his flat by a mystery assailant, then wakes up to find his wife Nadia (Elen Anaya) has been kidnapped. The blackmail message comes through loud and mean – get Sartet (now under police guard) out of that hospital, or his pregnant missus dies.

Well, anything for her, as the Cavayé hero would say, and this time it's only a hospital to be escaped rather than a high-security prison. All the same, it's a tough one to crack, and the upshot is that Samuel gets on the wrong side of a police conspiracy involving the murder of a well-known plutocrat – and his wife is now hostage to a different set of goons. On the old "my-enemy's-enemy" reasoning, he makes a reluctant partnership with Sartet, the original target of the bad-apple cops who used him on a job and then intended to bump him off. This is where Cavayé's strong direction comes into its own, for however often the plot bends under the weight of unlikeliness it never breaks: momentum is always on its side. As is style, in long pursuits down stairwells, across buildings and eventually through Le Metro, with the breathless Samuel giving even Jason Bourne some competition for leaping, sprinting and vanishing in tight spaces. Gilles Lellouche, playing Samuel, doesn't look a natural action man, but there's nothing forced or false about his panicked expression as he skitters down an escalator, knocking outraged commuters aside.

That Metro scene, by the way, with a thuggish skinhead terrorising the hero, stirred agreeable memories of another French thriller I haven't seen in 25 years or more. At first I thought it was mere fancy on my part; then, in a follow-up scene, Samuel enters a room in which the famous aria "Ebben? Ne andrò Lontana" from La Wally is playing – the same one that featured in the moody 1980s classic Diva. Whether this is Cavayé's deliberate nod is difficult to say, but the link is there, and it made me want to check whether Diva is still a classic, or merely moody.

Point Blank also gets its casting spot-on, especially in the case of Roschdy Zem as Sartet, whose haunting, angular features made such an impression in Rachid Bouchareb's colonial Algeria dramas Days of Glory (2006) and Outside the Law (2010). He hardly says a thing while Samuel stitches his torn stomach wound, but he doesn't need to, so expressive is that saturnine gaze (you can tell from it that Sartet asks himself, perhaps more than once, whether he should kill Samuel and ease his own escape). There are two other great faces here, one Gerard Lanvin, the other Mireille Perrier, playing rival commanders on the force whose overlapping jurisdictions bring them into conflict: they both have that very French way of projecting vast reserves of style and steel. Their final encounter with each other has a genuine shock in store.

The film packs in so much one is surprised to learn that it runs for less than 90 minutes. Even during the somewhat incredible denouement at a chaotic police station, Alain Duplantier's camerawork is so frenetic you don't have time to stop and question it. As with Cavayé's first film, it's too entertaining to avoid being swallowed by Hollywood's giant maw and regurgitated as a remake. But why wait for a knock-off set in New York or LA when you can get the original right now, fresh as this morning's baguette?

Arts and Entertainment
Britain's Got Talent judges: Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral