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The Point Men (2001) June 25, 2009

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009

Sometimes films can be made with the noblest of intentions. However, good intentions don’t always reflect in such films being good. Actually, more often than not such noble intentions appear to be the only good thing in titles that are, for all practical purposes, cinematic equivalent of manure. THE POINT MEN, 2001 action film directed by John Glen, is one such example.

The background for the plot is Arab-Israeli Conflict during which, as protagonist and narrator Tony Eckhardt (played by Christopher Lambert) tells us, Arabs and Jews “spend decades killing each other”. One of the contributors to that process was Eckhardt’s own unit of covert MOSSAD operatives. Their latest operation in Luxemborug – assassination of top Palestinian terrorist Amar Kamil (played by Vincent Regan) in Luxembourg – appears to be successful, despite messy shootout and one of Eckhardt’s men being briefly detained by local police. Eckhardt, however, doubts that his team killed the right target, but he can’t do anything about because his superiors disband the unit. Those doubts are justified, because Kamil actually planted a double while having a plastic surgery. He uses new identity to kill members of Eckhardt’s unit one by one. Eckhardt desperately tries to find him and his quest gets new urgency due to Kamil’s involvement in plan to derail Middle East peace process.

Script, based on the novel by Steven Hartov, gives impression of trying to go beyond usual black-and-white stereotypes Hollywood films used while portraying Arab-Israeli conflict. Kamil is clearly identified as villain, but his actions are motivated by desire for revenge against Israelis who killed his family. Eckhardt, despite being efficient killing machine, learns to respect his opponent and even attempts to settle their personal conflict in surprisingly peaceful fashion. Even some Palestinians are portrayed as reasonable and far-sighted characters who seek peaceful solution of the conflict.

Unfortunately, all those themes – very relevant now as they used to be in pre-9-11 world when this film was made – are buried by the film’s shortcomings that couldn’t be blamed solely on film’s lack of budget. The direction is simply terrible and it is hard to accept that THE POINT MEN was made by John Glen, British director famous for making 1980s Bond films. Constrained by budget and short running time, Glen insists on action scenes that almost always look unconvincing and uninspired. Furthermore, those scenes even take away precious time that could have otherwise been better spent on character development. Overqualified actors like Vincent Regan and Kerry Fox are reduced to portraying one-dimensional cliches and showing any more skill than usually bland Lambert.

There are, however, some moments that this film looks like a self-parody, or an attempt to make an entertaingly bad film. One of the examples Maryam d’Abo, who plays member of Eckhardt’s team described as “promiscous” and whose sole purpose is provide film with a scene of gratuitous nudity. Even more gratuitous is a scene in which Michael Morris and Peronella Van Kastel play Kamil’s ill-fated plastic surgeon and nurse being permanently silenced by their cold-blooded patient. Those moments are, however, too few to provide sufficient entertainment to audience and THE POINT MEN is condemned to be one of the lesser titles in filmographies of almost anyone involved.

RATING: 2/10 (+)

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