Well, if you think Netflix is currently ruling the industry when it comes to entertainment and more specifically, streaming, you are shorthanded by barely an inch: Netflix IS the industry. The streaming giant has significantly upped its number of originals in the past few months with atleast two new releases including original films or television series coming out every single week, sometimes even surpassing the number of movies you would see named on a billboard outside a theatre on Friday. It is tough to predict whether this upsizing is to be at the top of their content game or an effort at mere padding up its content before it loses a vast majority of it, most significantly Marvel, Disney, DC and WB films to Disney+ and HBO Max, respectively.
Whatever the reason, Netflix currently has the single largest library of online content, both original and borrowed, and the dual paradigm of such a magnanimity is what would lead to a by-product such as ‘Point Blank’. Remade from the 2010 French film of the same name, ‘Point Blank’ brings together Marvel co-stars Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo from opposite factions on the MCU, particularly the ‘Captain America’ films, to an unlikely buddy team up on the wrong side of law. While usually I reserve my final word and what I felt about the film till the end of the writeup, here I am just going to go ahead and divulge it earlier.
‘Point Blank’ is the perfect example of why too much of anything is not a good thing at all, even Netflix original films that aren’t masterpieces to begin with, ‘Roma’ being a fine exception among them. There are people who walk into a film venture with lowered expectations. I went in with none, and still came out pretty dang disappointed. This is not a film I would critically deconstruct to state everything that went wrong despite a promising start; however, if for some reason you too happened to chance upon this film that quite subtly stating, has mediocre written all over it, we can perhaps talk about it a little bit before this film gets pushed to the back of the Netflix library. Here is my take and a plot breakup of the latest Netflix original film that is too insipid even for background noise. Read on.
The film is quickly put into action with the very first frame as we hear gunshots inside the residence of later revealed to be an influential and honest Assistant DA, Joshua Gregory. Glass shatters and the first to emerge from a broken window of the house is a shot in the abdomen, injured and on the run Abraham Guavera (Frank Grillo) who is relentlessly pursued by two men from the house, who most definitely aren’t cops. That right there is your first giveaway into realising that everything is not as it seems. While on the run, Abe quickly calls his brother Mateo to extract him on wheels, but is unfortunately hit by a car at a junction, leading to Mateo fleeing the scene in reluctance.
Meanwhile, at the DA’s house, the Police team headed by Officers Regina Lewis and Masterson have investigated the crime scene and it is assumed that the murder was another one in a string of high-profile homicides, and that the perpetrator was shot by Joshua before succumbing to a point blank shot. This leads them to narrow down on their search, and it is not long enough before they discover Abe admitted in the hospital with a gunshot wound recorded after his accident.
We are then introduced to the character of Paul Booker, a male nurse who one day aspires to be a doctor and lives with his pregnant wife, who is due in three weeks. Mackie does good with whatever he is given here, and clearly he is an actor with far greater caliber than what his recent ventures would have one believe, but his post Marvel (very) buff physique just doesn’t gel well with the initially powerless everyman he is required to play. He receives an emergency call in the night from the hospital regarding a patient, and he quickly moves to find himself attending to an arrested but unconscious from his wounds Abe.
While administering his medication, Paul finds someone lurking in the shadows, later revealed to be Mateo looking over his brother who then attacks and easily one ups Paul. A disgruntled Paul returns home after ensuring the patient’s safety, and just as he is narrating the sequence of events to his wife, it is revealed that he was followed by Mateo who knocks Paul unconscious and kidnaps his pregnant wife, Taryn (Teyonah Parris).
Needless to say, Paul is contacted by Mateo once he regains consciousness, the latter threatening him with his wife’s and the baby’s safety and demanding his brother Abe’s freedom in exchange. It would seem as though Mackie’s Paul Booker won’t have any other choice but to help an injured and unconscious Abe to escape from the hospital if he wants to ensure the safety of his wife and unborn son, and he does so, quite intelligently I must say, however improbable it may be in actuality. At this point, Paul revives Abe with a shot of Toradol and Morphine, and the duo escape while they are followed by Lewis and Masterson. All this while, there is another subplot that develops when a crime lord known as Big D is revealed to be owed a huge sum by the Guavera brothers, and sends them threatening text messages that are plain funny, intentionally or unintentionally.
Quite a few other revelations follow, when Masterson tells Lewis about how the Guavera brothers got involved in the mess, with Mateo being in deep with the law looking at ten years in prison, leading to Abe cracking a deal with the DA, offering him a flash drive full of evidence against corrupt cops in exchange. It is then presumed that Abe murdered Josh and fled the scene with the drive. Meanwhile, one of the brothers’ attempts at reunion and the same for Paul and Taryn are already foiled by henchmen after both. Back to where the action is, the unlikely duo stay on the run while handling frankly poor attempts of forced friction between them, the kind that gets buddy movies flying high, especially in the action genre. The two manage to temporarily escape and seek refuge at Cheetah’s, one of Abe’s older associates to seek a car and some weapons in exchange for a favour he owed Abe.
While there, things go awry as Paul texts Lewis his location in desperation and a shootout ensues. Lewis shoots Cheetah and is able to overcome fire from Abe to have him down. Abe quickly spills Regina’s secret at the instant he is coerced about the flash drive: it was Regina who had killed the DA and framed Abe in his homicide. THIS is the big twist in the film and is delivered roughly halfway. Sadly enough, the film by now has virtually run out of all steam pushing its pistons and the glaringly obvious plot twist serves very little.
With her secret out, she quickly turns to Masterson and shoots him, and instructs accompanying corrupt officer Jones to shoot and kill Abe and Paul and make it look like a shootout with Paul as collateral damage, leaving the scene. Paul is able to get his hands on a gun, and quickly shoots Jones while being shell-shocked from killing a cop, while the duo escape in the car they took from Cheetah.
Back at where Mateo is holding Taryn who he begins to warm up to given her condition and heavy pregnancy, he is attacked by one of the henchmen (later revealed to be working with Lewis) pursuing them earlier who had followed them there, shooting Mateo and kidnapping a resisting Taryn, now eventually being held by Lewis who yet again, threatens Paul. An enraged Abe, overcome by his brother’s death vows revenge and offers Paul to be up in arms as well to save his wife. From hereon, the film quickly and conveniently switches tracks to become a comedy of sorts, going on to deliver a climax that is equal parts unearned, underwhelming and plain nonsensical. Still, here are my two cents on it.
The Ending, Explained
The duo seek help from Big D (the same gangster who was sending amusing threats all along to Mateo) by offering to him the flash drive and a part of what he was owed in cash. As it turns out, Big D and his gang of boys are huge movie buffs, and stage the next part of their plan to infiltrate where Taryn was being kept and rescue here like a film. What happens is virtually too low even for a home movie, but I will attempt to put it in words. The team manage to push a torched car down a sloped road in front of the station where Taryn was being held, making it look like an accident.
All nearby cops including Lewis are dispatched to the area, and Abe and Paul, impersonating an injured cop and doctor quickly get inside the building. My condolences to you if you are still looking to find some semblance of sense here. While Paul goes on to save his wife who is now deep into labour from the enforcer, presumably killing him in the process, Abe gets to Lewis from behind and forces her to surrender, who threatens him saying he couldn’t be on the run forever. Abe reveals the concealed camera in the Piñata from Cheetah’s pawn shop, and offers Lewis a gun to shoot herself, seeing as though he was going to expose her confession and Masterson’s killing from the camera, knocking her unconscious before leaving. He does so by handing over the camera to a local reporter outside and walks away to apparently lead a solitary lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Paul helps Taryn deliver the baby while being surrounded by armed officers who converge on him but eventually stand down seeing the couple’s predicament. Why they don’t arrest Paul who is clearly a convict on the run is frankly beyond me at this point, and I refused to put a second thought on it. The plot and the proceedings are similarly muddled with crater sized plot holes that sink a ship with potential at least equalling the bare minimum of what one can expect from an out-and-out action film. Not even sure whether it just was one.
The film cuts to a year from the present day where the couple celebrate the boy’s first birthday, and Paul is heartened by a birthday wish for his son from Abe, who then tells him they named their child Matty. Abe is then shown driving down a long straight road, implying that he managed to escape, but shortly after, it is revealed that he is being followed by a black SUV, the kind that federal law enforcers drive. While the screen immediately cuts to credits after this, it is singularly interesting to decipher what that meant. Without assigning too much weightage to something only unilaterally ambiguous, I simply think that was meant to signify that unbeknownst to Abe, he was still being followed, and was in effect, still on the run looking over his shoulders as Lewis had mentioned, especially since he still had the drive on him. Anything deeper than that would simply prove to be an exercise in futility.
I have routinely and quite leniently listed a number of mediocre movies as things to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon when you have precious little to do or accomplish. ‘Point Blank’ is NOT one of those. Instead, I would implore you to paint, or learn the guitar, or something that fires up your engines more than this latest entry into the endless list of forgettable Netflix original films. If the writeup above doesn’t suffice, here I am, reiterating. ‘Point Blank’ has the correct ingredients: a sufficiently interesting start and a dynamic duo with more than the chops to carry the whole movie. Add to that a barely serviceable plot that is hardly under the lens here. The problem here is that despite the ingredients all being there, they are left in a pan just as they were. What you inherently have is a mess. Plots and subplots fail to add any mileage to a wafer-thin plot that has foregone all motive by the end of the first half, driving towards a completely, shockingly ineffective climax. Even within 80 minutes, it feels like a drag because there is virtually nothing holding it together, except maybe Grillo and Mackie. Every single performance apart from the duo and Parris’ is uninspired. Tonal inconsistency, misplaced humour, and completely unsuitable musical numbers are just the least of your concerns here.