23 June 1999 | matt-201
POINT BLANK in the style of STRAIGHT TIME
The first hour is dazzling: Robert Duvall, a bank-heist guy screwed over by the mob, decides he wants $250,000 as recompense. And like Lee Marvin in POINT BLANK, he doesn't take no for an answer. The director, John Flynn, is one of the most underrated in crime cinema on the basis of this picture and ROLLING THUNDER alone: he takes a pretty familiar man-against-the-syndicate story and shoots it with a plainness so eloquent the movie takes on the dignity of a Shaker chair. Duvall is an extraordinarily expressive hard case, especially in his brutally unsentimental scenes with his uncertain moll (a lyrical and volcanic Karen Black). Maybe it's the Donald Westlake source novel, but all the bit parts are beautifully, almost journalistically characterized (with none of the cutesy color of Elmore Leonard). The last act detours into Quinn-Martin territory, but that's not the worst thing in the world, is it? Almost everything in this movie is just incredibly articulate: check out the scene between Robert Ryan, an aging, cock-of-the-walk, but rather insecure mob boss, and the beautiful, put-together young wife (Joanna Cassidy) whom he loves but treats like dirt. A single argument about listening to a Rams game on a car radio speaks novels about their relationship in four terse lines. Flynn could give today's neo-noir directors seminars in the beauties of haiku-like plainspokenness.