Point Men (2001) Movie Review

It is my theory that by the time he makes his 50th movie, actor Christopher Lambert (Highlander) will be completely mute and unable to speak a line of dialogue. Before you call me crazy, consider the last movie you’ve seen with Lambert, and ask yourself if you can understand anything the man was saying without having to turn up the volume or lean closer toward the screen. Get my point? In his new movie, The Point Men, Lambert is almost inaudible as he attempts to squeeze every little bit of vocal juice into his dialogue. I feel for the man, he must be in tremendous pain.

The Point Men stars Lambert as Tony, a member of an elite group of Israeli hitmen composed of foreigners (they call themselves the Foreign Legionnaires) who kills for the Israeli Government. The Point Men’s targets are mostly Palestinian terrorists who threaten Israel, and as the movie opens the team is targeting yet another terrorist, this one named Amar Kamil (Vincent Regan). As the hit is about to take place, Tony realizes this “Amar” is terrified of death and reasons that he can’t be the actual terrorist they’re after, since the “real” Amar is a known cold-blooded killer.

Before Tony can break off the hit, the fake Amar is killed and a team of Palestinian hitmen instantly appear out of nowhere to ambush the group. A member of the Point Men is killed and the others just barely escape capture. It turns out Amar is still alive and had set the ambush to kill the Point Men, who he blames for killing his family, including his brothers and wife. After the failed hit, Tony’s team is disbanded, and as the team members go on their separate ways, Amar returns and begins picking them off one by one.

I find the concept of a government hiring foreigners to do their killing for them to be a novel and intriguing idea. Unfortunately, other than a couple of lines of dialogue, the whole notion of hitmen who has no connection with the government they work for is barely touched upon. The filmmakers must have realized very early on that they have a turkey on their hands, thus the movie relies on one action scene after another.

With the film’s total running time somewhere around 80 minutes, this leaves very little room for characterization. The result is this: we have a terrorist hunting down members of Tony’s team one by one, Tony battling stupid superiors to operate, and Tony trying to find the terrorist before his people are all dead. The whole thing ends with a final showdown that harkens back to the old Assassin-In-Our-Midst clich’ — the Important Meeting That Must Take Place that the assassin is trying to stop.

One wonders where the money for The Point Men went, since they obviously weren’t spent on the action scenes. What passes for gunfights in The Point Men are so badly done that I have to wonder what college dropout the filmmakers hired to do the gun and squib (bullet) effects. In the day and age of vicious gunfights such as Saving Private Ryan and the Hong Kong movie 2000 A.D., The Point Men’s action scenes just don’t cut it. It all looks amateurish and lacks excitement, and in a movie that relies on its “action” to save it, having men who are slightly-average filmmakers behind your film is asking for trouble.

In one absurd scene, during a gunfight a gunman runs and hides behind a group of bushes to escape another person shooting at him! Did tree bushes suddenly become bulletproof and no one bothered to tell me? Later on, a member of Tony’s team, under house protection by soldiers because he’s being hunted by the terrorist, immediately sends the soldiers away and goes out for a jog in the park as soon as he gets word that the terrorist might have been captured! Gee, you’d think if an elusive terrorist who has already avoided death once is “thought” to be captured you might want to wait until everything is confirmed before going out for a jog in the middle of the night.

The most surprising thing about The Point Men is the casting of British actress Kerry Fox as Maddy, one of Tony’s colleagues as well as Tony’s lover and the mother of his unborn child. Fox is the best thespian of the group and brings life and vitality to her character. Unfortunately she’s trapped in the confines of a bad and boring movie. Or to be more precise, she’s mistaken The Point Men for an actual movie.

Lambert once again squints and scowls his way through yet another role. This isn’t a surprise, but in his later years, Lambert’s act is starting to get a little tiresome. It doesn’t help that he sounds like he has to exert tremendous pressure just to get his dialogues out at a reasonably audible decibel. What is wrong with the man’s throat? Coupled the low decibel of his voice with his thick accent and you have a lead actor whose lines I can barely hear, much less understand.

The rest of the cast are introduced just long enough to be killed off by Amar. They’re the spam in a slasher movie, only there to flash some skin and get splashed with blood. Throw in a gratuitous nude scene by Maryam d’Abo (Francie) and you have a movie with too many characters and not enough willingness to explore them. As Amar, the ex-PLO terrorist turned mass murderer, Vincent Regan is surprisingly boring. He sulks around the screen with a permanent frown on his face and exudes as much charisma as the Taco Bell dog that sits on my car’s dashboard. Although that’s insulting my Taco Bell dog. What’s worst, Amar is supposed to be a charmer, since he uses his charm to seduce one member of Tony’s group and to fool another, but what passes for “charm” looked more like creepiness to me.

The film was directed by John Glen, who shows very little talent, and probably will not work again. The execution of The Point Men can best be described as average, although that’s something of a stretch. As hard as it is to imagine, Glen does so badly on the establishing shots and background scenery that although the movie shifts from country to country, it was hard to tell the difference. After a while I started to wonder if the whole movie was shot in Austria somewhere, with each section of the Austrian countryside being used as another “country.” There are no inspired shots, no creative camera angles or anything to convince me John Glen knows anything other than how to set up a camera here, shoot straight there, and move onto the next scene.

If there is one good thing I can say about The Point Men it’s that Kerry Fox delivers a very good performance. It’s too bad she chose this movie to do it in, but hopefully she’ll find something much better in the future.

John Glen (director) / Steven Hartov (novel), Ripley Highsmith (screenplay)
CAST: Christopher Lambert …. Tony Eckhardt
Kerry Fox …. Maddy Hope
Vincent Regan …. Amar Kamil
Cal Macaninch …. Horst

Buy Point Men on DVD