Marvin Looking for Payback
Expressionist and Neo-noir are two of the terms used frighteningly often in reviews of "Point Blank", I almost feel that they are thrown in because they sound like fancy words someone who understands movies would use. Now I'm not saying those reviews are wrong because "Point Blank" has a very specific and interesting style which has gone on to influence other film makers but to the average movie watcher they probably don't mean much. So with that in mind how do I describe "Point Blank" well firstly it is a genre movie, the anti-hero who having been betrayed is now relentlessly looking for revenge and his $93,000. But whilst the set up is familiar they way it comes across with an almost cold feel makes it different to your normal revenge movie, it is this coldness, the abrupt editing and a top performance from Lee Marvin which makes "Point Blank" something both different and special.
A year after being double crossed by his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and Mal Reese (John Vernon) when he is left for dead in a bungled robbery in the deserted Alcatraz, Walker (Lee Marvin - The Dirty Dozen) has recovered and he is looking for revenge and his $93,000 share of the money. Approached by Det. Yost (Keenan Wynn) who is willing to give him information on Reese and Lynne if he helps him get to the organization, Walker sets out to get his money and no one is going to stop him, not the organization or Lynne's sister Chris (Angie Dickinson - Ocean's Eleven) who seems to be concerned for his safety.
Now to be totally honest from a storyline point of view "Point Blank" is not original. What we have is basically the classic story of the double crossed man seeking revenge and will stop at nothing till he achieves it. Having said that the way Walker sets about getting revenge and we discover the connections between various people is semi-clever and the various betrayals makes for a movie you have to pay attention to despite knowing how it will generally work out.
But then "Point Blank" is not so much about the story but the interpretation of it which basically means style. Now there is the visual style and early on we have the repetitiveness of a corridor which never ends, Walker's footsteps marching out a beat and there is the never ending reflection in a mirror. Then there is the coldness of it, where we have scenes which gently move along that suddenly snap to violence, a car drive turns violent in the blink of an eye, Walker bursting into a room and shooting, is split second violence. But what makes it so much more is the detachment because Walker never shows any emotion during his violent moments, he doesn't show remorse but neither does he show that he is enjoying them. It makes it different and a different which you either like or dislike because it can make it feel like you are too detached from what is happening.
As such "Point Blank" is a movie which rests firmly on the shoulders of Lee Marvin to play this detached anti-hero and he does it so well. If you want a definition of tall and silent Walker is it because whilst he has things to say he is a man who often just stares and it makes you wonder what is going through his mind especially when he attacks. Talking of attacks the scene where Angie Dickinson as Chris lays into Walker is breathtaking because that is Dickinson hitting and slapping Lee Marvin whilst he stands there and takes it till she tires herself out.
What this all boils down to is that "Point Blank" is a movie all about two things the style and the performance from Lee Marvin. Beyond these two elements "Point Blank" is a genre movie, a movie about a man wanting revenge and relentlessly going after it.