Walker: I want my money. I want my $93,000.
Brewster: $93,000? You threaten a financial structure like this for $93,000? No, Walker, I don't believe you. What do you really want?
Walker: I - I really want my money.
Director John Boorman brings us Lee Marvin as Walker, possibly the actor’s greatest role. Based on Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter, Marvin has never been stronger. A hulking form, Walkers cold, emotionless tough guy is out for his money, $93000 to be exact, with just a splash of revenge. Certain aspects of the book have been changed, but the essence is there, filmed with a hallucinogenic quality typical of the era. Films like this always fascinated me – here we have hardboiled noir mixed with trippy club scenes, flashbacks and an eerie voiceover by Marvin explaining why he is on his mission.
Left for dead at the scene of a heist at Alcatraz by his partner Reese, Walker makes it back from the island with two bullets in him and two things on his mind: find Reese and get the money. Reese’s betrayal was built from necessity. With Walkers cut used to pay back his debt to the Organisation, Reese has moved up, so Walker must use every trick in the book to get past heavies and middlemen alike and reclaim what is owed to him.
Marvin fills the screen, speaking only when necessary. This guy doesn’t do small talk. Fresh from Oscar success in Cat Ballou and the masterpiece that is The Dirty Dozen, Marvin was able to choose his next project personally, and it’s easy to see why he was drawn to the character of Walker. John Vernon, as the weak, double-crossing Reese, has a voice that is almost hypnotic. Think of any movie trailer you’ve ever heard. I was mesmerised during the scene where Vernon asks one of the top guys in the Organisation for help. Crime has become corporate. Meetings are held in office buildings and everyone wears suits.
Highlights include a brutal fight scene that will make you wince, and a terrifying test drive that clearly influenced True Lies. I was reminded of Stephen Soderbergh’s The Limey; a protagonist so focused, who cannot be dissuaded no matter who the target. Soderbergh is a fan, providing commentary along with Boorman, whose style is evident. Intercut flashbacks to the heist gone wrong and quick switches between shots of embracing couples from Walker’s past and present break up the movie. Mel Gibson is also a fan of the novel, choosing to name his character Porter in Payback.
Stark’s Parker, Marvin’s Walker and Gibson’s Porter. You would not want to mess with any of them. An influence for Get Carter perhaps? Tense, unrestrained, and capturing the acid-like, New Wave vibe of the 60s with elements of pulp detective stories and the ever present theme of revenge. Point Blank is cinema changing shape, pushing the boundaries. Now I truly know why Mr Blonde from Reservoir Dogs utters the words “I bet you’re a big Lee Marvin fan aren’t you?” Neo-noir tough guy cool personified.
|Genre||Crime, Film Noir, Thriller, Hard-Boiled, New Wave|