Point Blank (1967) – John Boorman

Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson headline the next stop in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book as we return to the Thriller & Crime genre.

Marvin is Walker, a criminal left for dead when he is double-crossed by his partners, Reese (John Vernon) and his own wife, Lynne (Sharon Acker). He sets out on a path of revenge, both using, and being used along the way as he hunts down his take of the heist, and finds himself caught up in a bloodbath.

Exuding a hard-edged cool, Walker paces in a sharp suit, and deals out violence with a deadly accuracy.

I love how Boorman puts this film together, the inevitable approach of Walker, his footsteps resounding, dominating the images as he closes in on his targets. It’s brilliantly paced, and I love how it hints that there are other things going on here. There are suggestions, as flashbacks meld, and cross, that perhaps this isn’t all real – is it a dying dream, a bit of wish fulfilment? – there are suggestions of both.

Whether it’s real or not, Walker seems unstoppable, and is brutal in his pursuit of what’s his.

Vernon’s Mal Reese is bad, and Vernon has made a career of playing baddies and easily despised characters, but his Reese can’t hold a candle to Marvin’s Walker. This guy is a complete bad ass.

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And despite the violence, the body count in the film isn’t that high – there is a grand total of 8 deaths. For all that, the film doesn’t let up, it’s a tautly wound spring that drives Walker on towards his revenge, and the film’s conclusion.

I love the way Boorman has shot this, despite the time the film was made, a lot of the images are timeless, especially the exteriors, and there’s a stark beauty to the locations, and moments.

Coupling that with Marvin’s purposeful stride as Walker, and you’ve got a tough, sharp looking film that ends up being a fantastic ride.

I really enjoyed this revenge thriller, and while I had heard of it before I had never dug into it. I regret not doing so earlier, but it certainly made me appreciate it all the more that I came to it now.

Marvin was always a fantastic performer, and this role seemed perfectly suited to him. When you give him a solid script, and a good director, and surround him with a supporting cast that not includes Dickinson, and Vernon but also Carroll O’Connor, and James Sikking, you really can’t go wrong.

This is my kind of revenge thriller. I loved the look and the style, and it’s very, very cool.

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