Grosse Pointe left me Blank
After 5 years as a successful paid hit man, Martin Blank (John Cusack - Say Anything) is starting to doubt the nobility of his chosen profession. Even his psychiatrist, Dr. Oatman (Alan Arkin - Indian Summer) doesn't want to treat him, as he fears that anything he says, that challenges Martin's morals, will result in him staring down the barrel of a gun. On top of this, he still has unresolved feelings for his childhood sweetheart, Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver - Hope Springs), who he mysteriously walked out on the night of the High School Prom.
After bungling one of his jobs, Martin is forced into taking a job in Grosse Pointe, Detroit his home town. This coincides with his high school reunion, which he has been deliberating about going too, as he will have to face up to his emotions. After some less than gentle persuasion by his office manager, Marcella (Joan Cusack - Working Girl), Martin finds himself back in his home town. Now, not only having to explain to all his old friends where he has been for the past 10 years, but he also has to deal with his emotions towards Debi. Plus he also finds himself being the focus of another assassin, Grocer (Dan Aykroyd - Ghostbusters) and his CIA buddies.
Although I like "Grosse Pointe Blank", it confuses me as too what it is meant to be. Labelled as an action, romance, comedy, crime-thriller, it struggles to be overly effective in any one of them, and feels as if it spreads itself a little bit thin amongst all of them. There are some very good action sequences which focus around killing people, the romance comes from the unresolved feelings that Martin has for Debi. The comedy is not your typical laugh out loud humour, but much darker and there are a couple of decent twists which makes the story line interesting. But in my opinion, all of these factors only add up to about 50% of the film and for the rest of the time the film seems to ramble on.
The plot to "Grosse Pointe Blank" although enjoyable is a bit predictable, as you have a pretty standard romance story which you can guess how it will end up. But also the much used, man dealing with his conscious to work out what is right or wrong for him. Where the plot does become interesting is the unexpected twists which did take me by surprise. On top of this, the action sequences which mainly revolve around killing people, are very cleverly thought out and are a change to the usual no brainer action, which has become the mainstay of Hollywood action movies.
The saving grace of "Grosse Pointe Blank" is John Cusack as Martin Q. Blank and without him; this film would not be anywhere near as enjoyable as it is. Although not an outlandish comedy actor, Cusack manages to deliver humorous lines in such a dead pan manner that even the absurd things make you laugh. Opposite Cusack is Minnie Driver as his love interest, although the film tries to explore the relationship, it never seems to concentrate on it enough and sadly makes Driver's performance a bit lacklustre. One of the highlights of the film is that of the character Marcella, played by John's real life sister, Joan Cusack. Her portrayal of the nagging office manager is hilarious as she manipulates Martin into going to the school reunion. Along with this you have good performances from Dan Aykroyd, Alan Arkin, Hank Azaria and Jeremy Piven who all work perfectly alongside John Cusack.
"Grosse Pointe Blank" is directed by George Armitage and although it is enjoyable, I feel he could have done a better job if he had concentrated on making this film a master of one of its genres. As it is, the film is spread out too thinly and so looses your attention as frequently as it looses its focus. The soundtrack to the film is as widespread as its genres, with brilliant heavy pieces such as "Live and Let Die" by Guns 'n' Roses, and lighter pieces such as "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles and "Take On ME" by a-ha.
What this all boils down to is that "Grosse Pointe Blank" is one of those films which is good, but could have been so much better. The plot although mainly predictable does have a couple of enjoyable twists to add a little bit of spice. The most impressive thing about this film is John Cusack; his performance is without doubt, the main reason why "Grosse Pointe Blank" is so enjoyable.