Netflix’s ‘Point Blank’ fails Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie: Review

The following is a spoiler-free review of Netflix’s Point Blank.

Point Blank has way more going for it than it has any right to. 

A remake of the 2010 French film of the same name, this action flick features the talents of top-tier actors Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Marcia Gay Harden, Teyonah Parris, and Boris McGiver. Plus some pretty satisfying gore, a bitchin’ PT Cruiser, a fun little twist, a handful of tantalizing cliffhangers, and an excellent application of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message.”

But for the most part, Point Blank is forgettable — a fact that feels not only like a letdown for viewers, but a disappointment for leads Mackie and Grillo.

A mediocre rehash of every action movie you’ve ever seen ever.

Mackie plays Paul, an unassuming ER nurse and soon-to-be father, who gets roped into an elaborate criminal stand-off thanks to Abe, a mysterious assassin played by Grillo. 

After the pair clandestinely meet at a Cincinnati hospital, Paul’s pregnant wife (Parris) is kidnapped as leverage to aid in Abe’s escape from police custody, and the clock on this mercifully short hour-and-a-half jaunt starts ticking. 

There’s dramatic hand-to-hand combat, shootouts, double crosses, dirty cops, and car chases. Certainly adequate, but notably underwhelming, the resulting project is a mediocre rehash of every action movie you’ve ever seen ever. Sure, Mackie and Grillo are given plenty to do, but little of it is interesting or new, and none of it rises to their caliber of talent.

It’s a strange thing for Netflix — a streaming platform known for making unknowns, like the kids of Stranger Things, into overnight A-listers — to squander its use of not one, but two Marvel stars. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mackie is well-known for his role as Sam Wilson (aka Falcon), and Grillo’s performance as Brock Rumlow (aka Crossbones), while not his most prominent role to date, earned the actor a cameo in Avengers: Endgame, the biggest film of 2019 thus far.

These guys are big-time action stars with credits many genre wannabes could only dream of. So, how could a movie based off another markedly successful movie manage to misuse them so badly? 

Well, possibly because Netflix has done just that numerous times before.

While Point Blank marks Grillo and Mackie’s first official team-up outside of the MCU (not including their brief overlap in Gangster Squad), the project is neither actors’ first foray onto the streaming platform. Previously, Grillo starred in another Netflix original action flick, Wheelman, as well as hosted the platform’s docuseries FightWorld, both projects that were quickly categorized by viewers as fine but missable. 

For Mackie, Point Blank is the latest in a much longer line-up of Netflix projects. Previously appearing in the service’s immensely frustrating sci-fi drama IO and “Striking Vipers” (a good but not great episode of Black Mirror Season 5), Mackie is a regular Netflix partner as of late. Looking to the future, he has already signed up to star in Altered Carbon Season 2 due out in 2020, as well as produce and appear in the upcoming apocalyptic drama Outside the Wire

Of course, we can’t write off those unreleased projects quite yet — particularly considering how excited we are for more Altered Carbon — but if the way these two stars were handled in Point Blank is any indication, Mackie could be headed for more disappointment down the line.

Mackie and Grillo’s shared star power couldn’t carry a story that wasn’t there.

It’s hard to say what’s at the core of Point Blank‘s problem, in part because it seems to take so many missteps. Fast-paced sequences seem to drag, characters that should be rich with feeling fail to land, and sudden comedic tone-shifts in the third act make what little payoff the film has a joke. 

But none of the film’s problems seem directly tied to Grillo or Mackie. The two act their butts off, and appear as professionally badass as ever. 

Moreover, their involvement seems to have garnered Point Blank considerably more attention than it may have received otherwise. The film’s trailer has racked up hundreds of Falcon and Crossbones-centric comments on YouTube, as well as inspired Mashable’s (and presumably other outlets’) decision to review the project at all. 

Instead, it appears that Point Blank relied too heavily on Mackie and Grillo’s shared star power, asking them to carry a story that simply wasn’t there. Yes, Mackie is charming as a loving husband in purple scrubs and Grillo can crush any menacing, tongue-in-cheek line you give him. But the pair can’t make an epic cinematic staple through their acting alone.

After all, they’re superheroes — not magicians. 

Point Blank is now streaming on Netflix.

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