The Point Men
The Point Men

UK/France/Luxembourg, 2001. Rated R. 95 minutes.

Cast: Christopher Lambert, Kerry Fox, Vincent Regan, Donald Sumpter, Maryam D'Abo, Cal Macaninch, Oliver Haden, William Armstrong, Nicolas de Pruyssenaere
Writer: Ripley Highsmith, based on the novel The Heat of Ramadan, by Steven Hartov
Original Music: Gast Waltzing
Cinematography: Alec Mills
Producers: Silvio Muraglia, Avi Nesher, Tom Reeve
Director: John Glen


Grade: D Review by Carlo Cavagna

A  typical straight-to-video action feature with slightly above average production values, The Point Men is the sort of movie you get drawn into if you're bored out of your mind in a hotel room, surfing through cable channels you don't get at home. The movie would leave you angry had you gone out of your way to see it, but it can functionally pass the time if the only alternative is reality television.

Behind the camera for the first time in nearly ten years, John Glen, director of every official James Bond movie from For Your Eyes Only to License to Kill (i.e., not including Never Say Never Again), brings a glossy veneer to this European production, but he cannot disguise the formulaic, bare-bones story. The plots for these “international” action films (meaning “straight-to-cable”) are always the same. The hero is a professional killer who develops a personal stake in his assignment, doing battle with other killers as he races to save the world. Or some variation thereof.

In this case, the hero is Tony Eckhart (not his real name, of course), a “point man” for the Israeli Mossad, trying to stop a deadly Palestinian terrorist (Vincent Regan) before he can 1) finish hunting down the members of Eckhart's team as part of a personal vendetta, and 2) derail the Mid-East peace process by assassinating the peacenik Palestinian leader. Memo to everyone in the film: Don't bother. The Mid-East peace process is being derailed just fine by trigger-happy soldiers and idiots with dynamite strapped to their chests. Oh, and let's not forget the personal stakes. Eckhart's colleague Maddy (Shallow Grave's Kerry Fox) is expecting his child. There must always be the life of a child at stake, you know.

Fox is an unusual casting choice for a straight-to-video action flick in that she's not a skeletal twentysomething runway model with improbably large breasts. That is to say, she is a normal-looking, reasonably pretty woman in her thirties who can act. We can't have actual acting in Point Men, of course, so to offset Fox's efforts, we have Regan and former Bond Girl Maryam D'Abo (who starred for Glen in The Living Daylights) offering their utter ineptitude. As for Lambert, he gives a slightly softer performance than usual—to the film's benefit—which is to say that he smiles once in awhile and allows his character some vulnerability. It's not exactly range, but it's more than Lambert has been showing lately.

The action scenes, the only reason to watch a movie like Point Men, fail to provide the requisite escape. Glen and director of photography Alec Mills (also a Bond vet) film them competently and professionally, but with little flair. The action, consisting of guys running around firing guns and a couple car chases, is brief and banal. This causes more attention to fall on the quieter scenes, whose broad, clumsy writing cannot withstand the scrutiny. Unfortunately, the film takes its emotional and political content seriously. Except for Regan's comical line readings, particularly in his scenes with D'Abo, The Point Men doesn't even offer camp value.

Review © April 2005 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Image © 2001 Columbia TriStar Home Video. All Rights Reserved.

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