i was going to do our non-screening die hard-ish movies in chronological order, but looking over all the possibilities i thought i would do some of them by themes. so i guess this is a theme within a theme. after breakaway aka christmas rush, i thought it would be interesting to do another die-hard-in-a-mall movie. some time next week i will hopefully get to the die-hard-in-a-ski-lodge movies.
i first noticed point blank (1998) through netfLIx. i think it was under the “hostage action thriller” category while adding all the die hard-ish movies. now click on that picture on the left and take a closer look. and then look at the netfLIx plot summary: “it’s con air on the ground when a busload of texas’s most deadly criminals is freed by an ambush and takes over a nearby shopping mall in this action thriller. former texas ranger ruby ray infiltrates the killers’ compound to free his brother…”
i think what grabbed me is the “con air on the ground” part, which to me, is the middle part of speed, another die hard-ish movie. the mall part also reminds me of dawn of the dead. and since mickey rouke is the only name in the picture, i’m sure i’m not the only one sold on the idea of mickey rouke as john mcclane in die-hard-in-a-mall.
despite its title, point blank (1998) has nothing to do with the lee marvin point blank (1967) nor the mel gibson remake of point blank (1967) called payback (1999) nor the brian helgeland payback: straight up – the director’s cut of payback (2006). it’s just kind of a catchall generic action movie title that in the end, doesn’t really mean much.
point blank 98 opens promisingly with scenes that’s very similar to the last two fast/furious movies with prisoners breaking free from a bus during transfer. so there’s the con air/the fugitive connection too. for reasons never explained or maybe i missed, these prisoners end up taking over a mall. after the initial scenes, we see mickey rouke working at a farm with his father. when words came that his brother is one of the people who took over the mall, mickey snaps into action and decided to break into the mall to get his brother out. rouke’s character is supposed to be some kind of ex-special force/war hero.
the convicts’ escape is bankrolled by a seemingly more white collar mastermind played by paul ben-victor, one of those character actors that you recognize from somewhere. imdb suggests that it was true romance for me. the convicts include michael wright (tv’s oz), kevin gage (heat), and danny “machete” trejo, who’s also in con air. in fact, he pretty much plays the same character, except instead of just a sex criminal, he’s also doing coke in this movie. he also has most of the wtf moments in the movie (cocaine + coked up stripper pole dance), which almost takes it into so-bad-it’s-good territory.
there are also a few unbearable/borderline laughable scenes involving the twilight-ish werner schreyer as a young not-really-bad convict.
it’s kind of interesting that the movie focuses mostly on the criminals in the mall. i don’t know if it’s because of scheduling but it doesn’t seem like mickey rouke is in the movie that much. he just kinda shows up every once in a while to take out the bad guys one by one, with not too convincing martial arts moves.
point blank 98 is by no means good. there are more than a few editing gaffes. it’s not quite over the top throughout to make it campy (though since it’s d-t-v they do manage to get away with more sex and violence than its big budget studio counterparts). the action sequences are mostly passable but the main problem is that the movie, like the bad guys, doesn’t seem to have a grand plan, and so we don’t really know what their motives are.
i watched this on netfLIx instant, so it’s got the usual michael bay effects, where the gunfights and explosions are really loud and the dialogues are barely audible. it doesn’t help that rouke is mumbling for most of the movie. on top of that, they are supposed to be in texas so everyone’s got a southern accent. the bad editing also made me want to check to see if the dvd was skipping until i realized i was actually watching it through netflix. so i checked my internet connection instead.
maybe it’s because of that, i actually like the fact that i didn’t know which convict is supposed to be rouke’s brother. each convict gets his own tender emotional scene telling his own backstory and the brother is not actually who i thought it was. so thanks netfLIx, or the four point blank 98 screenwriters.
rouke is actually pretty good as the john matrix-ish character, and he looks pretty normal and buff. i actually wish he has more screen time like a john mcclane instead of the intermittent metal gear solid type stealthy action scenes. kevin gage is also great as somewhat of a leader of the convicts. i haven’t seen him in that many movies but looking at his credits i don’t think he gets to be a sympathetic character very often and he succeeds here. he’s the guy who ratted out de niro’s gang in heat. as in the michael mann movie heat, not as in robert de niro and his gang are in heat.
i don’t really have any problems with ripoffs, especially during die hard-ish month. but point blank 98 is mostly boring, formulaic and forgettable due to its lack of planning. other than the action scenes, everything in the movie just seems kind of slapped together without much thought or groundwork. it’s too bad cause with its premise, and maybe a few more drafts and rewrites, it could have been an entertaining die hard-ish d-t-v movie.
it is so far the second best die-hard-in-a-mall movie i’ve ever seen, after breakaway (christmas rush).
and for only $7.99 a month, you can watch this movie on netfLIx instantly anytime you want, over and over again, until they pull it without any notice! hopefully you have the instant stream plan or the combo dvd/instant $16 plan cause point blank 98 is not available on dvd through netfLIx even though it’s available to buy through most websites  .
point blank (1998)
the pitch: die hard on a bus/in a mall
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: a normal looking mickey rouke, pre-wrestler but post-double team. he doesn’t get an eyebrow cut but he did get a cut on the left arm.
the gruber factor: paul ben-victor as the wealthy criminal who broke the convicts out and promise them money. his headquarter is apparently in that strip mall. they also decided to make him gay in the middle of the movie. so we get a scene of him flamboyantly taunting the hostages. and…that’s about it. after that he’s back to being an action movie bad guy. though you have to give them credit since you don’t usually see gay characters in action movies without being jokey stereotypes. they didn’t overdo it here.
the hans objective: they have to get to the mall aka the bad guy’s headquarter to get the money so that they can get free.
wrong place at the wrong time: rouke actually had to break into the mall to save his brother, even though the movie didn’t give us much details. he also seems to be able to enter and exit the mall freely…the brother’s trapped i guess.
the help: there’s a police captain outside who knows rouke and his brother. he’s supposed to be on rouke’s side but other than the opening scenes, he doesn’t really provide much help. there’s no communication between them once rouke got into the mall.
the family element: rouke’s character is there to get his brother. there’s a scene with their father, on a farm.
bonfire of the weaponry: shotguns, machine guns, grenades, plastic bag, perfume, paint, knives, tarzan swing, bulletproof backflips.
last man standing: there isn’t really a one on one finale. there are a few pretty long action sequence between rouke and trejo. there’s a long emotional scene between rouke and his brother. the main bad guy is killed with a quick throatcutting.
unbearables: there are so many that i’m sure i’m missing some. the main bad guy makes outrageous demands. the cops arrive first but are later undermined when the feds show up. the main bad guy has a henchman, in this case lover, with long blonde hair. there’s the ethnic crazy villain with long hair amongst the convicts. silent night was played at one point even though it looks like it’s summer in texas. trejo comes back near the end after you think he’s dead. and these are just from die hard 1.
p.s. there are a lot of interesting connections here. as mentioned, the young convict played by schreyer was in another 9 ½ weeks with rouke. rouke was in sin city and the expendables with bruce willis. director matt earl beesley was the second unit director for the die hard-ish hard rain and chain reaction, and rouke’s year of the dragon. rouke and trejo are in once upon a time in mexico by robert rodriguez, who also directed sin city. trejo was in die hard-ish runaway train, lock up, the last hour 1991 aka concrete war, con air, and heat with kevin gage, who has an uncredited role in con air. main bad guy paul ben-victor was in the die hard-ish firestorm. one of the cops, played by frederic forrest, is in the first 9 ½ weeks, the rouke-less third entry of the series.