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Mal Reese is in a real bind - owing a good deal of money to his organized crime bosses - and gets his friend Walker to join him in a heist. It goes off without a hitch but when Reese realizes the take isn't as large as he had hoped, he kills Walker - or so he thinks. Some time later, Walker decides the time has come get his share of the money and starts with his ex-wife Lynne who took up with Reese after the shooting. That leads him on a trail - to his wife's sister Chris, to Reese himself, then onto Big Stegmam, then Frederick Carter and on and up the line of gangsters all in an effort to get money from people who simply won't acknowledge that he's owed anything. Written by
Point Blank contains inspiring visuals, a haunting soundtrack and some stunning acting. Fabulous, groundbreaking cinema.
In the wake of his Cannes Best Director award for The General, Boorman's stunning debut has been released with a new print. Unrelentingly downbeat, this stylish crime thriller made in 1967 seems to have fuelled virtually Elmore Leonard novel.
Steely, panther-like hitman Walker (marvellous Marvin) has been fitted up, shot at and had $93,0000 stolen from him all because of ex-pal Mal Reese (John Vernon). A tad upset he decides to resurrects himself, with the help of the shadowy Yost (Keenan Wynn) for revenge and his payment.
Boorman greets us with a five-minute sequence that is crammed with curious camera angles, fractured time-lines and carefully constructed compositions. We're bombarded by a montage of piercingly violent images blended together with fragments of a failed heist on Alcatraz Island and a pair of slugs ripping into Walker's body. We're only privy to these flash snippets of information, but they're still enough to help us empathise with Marvin's masterly obsessive.
A year or two later Walker is on a tourist boat trip to Alcatraz, being propositioned by Yost. The creepy Yost knows where Mal and his Walker ex-wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) are and is willing to reveal this to him, just as long as he receives some information on a shadowy body called "The Organisation". Walker simply nods. His dialogue is minimal, his obsession is reflected through his curt questions, his sudden movements, his eyes and the flashbacks that haunt him.
When he catches up with his cheating ex-wife he allows her to talk uninterrupted in a desperate, forlorn monotone - "He's gone. Cold. Moved out," she says. Walker barely takes it in, all that motivates him is the thought, "Somebody's gotta to pay."
While others flounder, Marvin appears impenetrable like one of Sergio Leone's cowboys. Only Clint Eastwood never conveyed this much emotion in his movements.
Boorman's seminal film preceded the spate of fabulous paranoia flicks that enriched 70s American cinema The Conversation, The Parallax View, All The President's Men where a shadowy "Organisation" pulls the nation's strings. Tarantino has since appropriated this organisation theme on a small-time level, plagarising the black suits and the unwavering professionalism of the violence. De Niro's ex-con in Jackie Brown is based on Marvin's Walker, as are countless other performances.
Even Angie Dickinson, playing Lynne's sister Chris, leaves him cold. In a remarkable scene she resorts to repeatedly slamming Walker's immovable slab of a chest. He remains impregnable, emotionally void. She keeps on punching until she finally collapses on the floor in a heap. They finally make love, only for the isolation, the loss of identity, to continue. Is he an avenging angel? Is he there at all?
"Hey, what's my last name?" asks a post-coital Chris. "What's my first name?" he deadpans, answering a question with another question. Always seeking answers, never providing them. No love left in him, only a need for payment.
Point Blank contains inspiring visuals, a haunting soundtrack and some stunning acting. Fabulous, groundbreaking cinema. --Ben Walsh
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