WHEN SOME SLEAZY criminals kidnap his sweet, pregnant wife—c'mon, sleazy criminals! That's low, even for you!—hardworking nurse Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche) doesn't waste any goddamn time. At the mercy of the bad guys—and given a strict deadline to deliver one of his patients, Sartet (Roschdy Zem), to them—it takes the confused, desperate, and panicked Pierret all of .05 seconds to start shocking cops with defibrillators and clocking doctors with handguns. On the run from both the cops and some other sleazy criminals who're out to kill Sartet, Pierret basically goes from being Zach Braff on Scrubs one minute to acting all Jason Bourne the next.
Fast paced and crisply edited, the French Point Blank's remarkably boilerplate in a lot of ways—a (pregnant) damsel in distress! An ordinary man forced into extraordinary circumstances! A tough-as-nails-but-well-meaning cop who might be an ally to our troubled hero!—but director Fred Cavayé doesn't waste much time in turning those clichés on their head, or, barring that, at least milking them for all they're worth. This is the increasingly rare kind of thriller that realizes its chief priority should be, y'know, thrills, which means it moves, and even when its steadily ratcheting tension strains credulity (Pierret sure is good at daringly leaping across rooftops in exhilarating foot chases), it's also smart enough to balance things out with just enough realism (turns out Pierret's also good at panic-vomiting after those exhilarating foot chases).
Short sheeted by music-video direction and studios' continued insistence on PG-13 ratings, it's not often that American thrillers deliver this sort of tight-fisted action or these sort of eager, adrenalin-edged jolts. Surprising, violent, and relentlessly fun, Point Blank's a pretty damn solid reminder that even if decent thrillers aren't as common as they should be here, at least the French have us covered.