John Cusack has never been cooler than he is in Grosse Pointe Blank. Playing a hitman having a mid-life crisis, Cusack manages to balance a neurotic character, who could come across as whiny and annoying but doesn’t, with the random but well-staged bouts of bloody violence. As the film ends you wish you had an outlook on life as focused and clear as Cusack’s.
The fact that Cusack’s Martin Blank is a hitman is one of the more minor aspects of the movie. The film is more about the character revisiting his old home for a high school reunion which will inevitably see him meet with his high school sweetheart. As love stories go, this one is unconventional to say the least but its this story of Cusack being the mysterious runaway, returning to a sleepy town that clearly hasn’t moved on since he left, which makes the film so engaging.
The film has a charm which only works because Cusack balances the comedy and action so perfectly. Not a traditional action hero type actor, Cusack holds his own, from a shoot-out in a convenience store, a fantastic fist-fight in a high-school hallway and the finale which mixes a gun battle with a earnest, romantic apology. The fact it manages to walk this line so well is what makes Grosse Point Blank so watchable.
It also helps that the characters supporting Cusack are written successfully. From his obsessive secretary played by John’s sister Joan Cusack, through to the old friend trying to relive glory days in Jeremy Piven. The film even boasts an impressive villain in Dan Aykroyd who has little to do but steals the scenes he’s in. Its the chemistry between love interest Minnie Driver and Cusack which makes the story successful though. Driver’s Deb Newberry gives as good as she gets and is not the damsel-in-distress. She bounces off Cusack and a long lost relationship feels believable between them.
This is a film celebrating a high-school reunion from the 80s and the soundtrack compliments this well. The music is a key part of the movie, not just because the choice of songs are stand-out. Some scenes are made better for the music chosen, from the music played as Cusack’s Blank enters Grosse Pointe through to one key scene involving Blank and a impromptu baby.
With all these fantastic elements making the film work so well, it seems a shame that the movie struggles to maintain the pace towards the more action focused ending. Its a film where the strength is in the story, not the action but because the finale relies so much on that action, it feels rushed and far too easily resolved.
Overall, Grosse Point Blank is a film which mixes action and mid-life crisis well. Cusack is effortlessly cool and perfectly matched by Driver’s love interest. The supporting cast help sell the clever set-up and interesting story, with a killer soundtrack to piece it all back together.
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Distinct Chatter) or follow us on Twitter – @distinctchat