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REVIEW: Point Blank (1967) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Point Blank (1967)

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‘I want my money.  I want my 93 grand’

Lee Marvin is vengeful and hyper-focused professional criminal Walker in this smartly directed crime drama from John Boorman (Excalibur, Deliverance).  The movie begins at a congested party, where Walker is convinced by his friend Mal Reese (John Vernon) to assist him in the robbery of the Alcatraz run, a pre-arranged spot where money switches hands between criminal organizations.  The robbery involves Walker, his wife Lynne and Reese.  After taking the money, Reese then double-crosses Walker, stealing his share of the loot and shooting him multiple times in an Alcatraz cell.  Lynne goes along with Reese, completing the betrayal.

The film then flash forwards a year later to a freshly healed, Walker aboard a ferry.  Determined to find Reese and get his $93,000 back, Walker is getting information from the mysterious Yost.  He also learns that Reese has used the money to buy his way back into the ‘organization’.

Walker’s first stop is his duplicitous wife’s residence.  Lynne is now in Los Angeles, strung out on pills and unable to forget her past.  She tells him that Reese has left her, but is still sending a messenger carrying $1000 a month as payoff.  After falling asleep on a couch, Walker wakes up to discover his wife has died from an overdose.

When the messenger arrives, Walker questions him at gunpoint.  The messenger gives up the name of car salesman, John Stegman.  During a test drive from hell, Stegman tells Walker that Chris (Angie Dickinson), Lynne’s sister, would know Reese’s location.   After meeting Chris, Walker convinces her to work with him.

Leaving a destructive path across Los Angeles, the organization chooses to let Walker learn, through the underground, that Reese is staying in a penthouse at the Huntley House Hotel.  They lay a trap for Walker and surround the building with armed thugs.

Luckily for Walker, Reese is infatuated with Chris.  As a result, Walker sends Chris to seduce and distract him.  To sneak into the building, Walker fakes a kidnapping at residential complex across the street and gets the ‘victims’ to call the police.  Observing all the commotion outside, the hotel thugs are preoccupied long enough for Walker to slip into the underground parking lot and take the garage elevator to the penthouse.

Knocking out the penthouse guards silently off-screen, Walker gains entry to Reese’s room.  He points a gun at Reese while he’s naked in bed with Chris.  Shocked and terrified, Reese blurts out the names of organization bosses when asked about the money.  Dragging him onto the open balcony, Walker shoves him over the banister, where he falls naked towards the busy streets below.

As Walker climbs the criminal enterprise ladder in search of his $93,000, he suddenly realizes he’s still being manipulated.

Initially disjointed and difficult to follow, Point Blank, based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake, fast becomes an inventive and creatively shot crime picture.  Marvin is excellent as the pistol-whipping Walker.     However, the film seems censored at times and Walker’s ability to coerce crime bosses using only his pistol, stretches believability.  Mel Gibson’s remake of the same novel, ‘Payback’ is a slightly better movie.  Gibson’s film is a better vehicle for the character’s cold-bloodedness, especially in the Director’s cut.  Nevertheless, the best and most faithful version of Westlake’s character, ‘Parker’ is in the graphic novel, ‘The Hunter’ by award-winning artist, Darwyn Cooke.

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