Grosse Pointe Blank

I love this film! Starring John Cusack, England’s patriotically-named Minnie Driver, plus Dan Ackroyd, Alan Arkin & Joan Cusack, ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ is funny, clever, action-packed & has a great ‘eighties soundtrack.

John Cusack – as the film’s protagonist Martin Blank – is superb, & virtually carries the whole movie. He plays an assassin who started out working for the U.S. Government but has now gone freelance, having managed to rationalise his cold-blooded killing. He is an amoral, sharp, ruthless killer, but also vulnerably human, neurotic, conscience-ridden, tender & romantic. Despite these ostensibly impossible personality contradictions, you never once question that his character is real, you can’t help but like the guy, & never stop hoping that things work out for him. Pulling this off is a remarkable achievement & Cusack does it brilliantly.

He reluctantly accepts a commission that takes him back to his hometown, Grosse Pointe, coincidentally at exactly the same time as his old High School reunion. While there he visits his childhood sweetheart, local DJ Debi (Driver), for the first time in 10 years – when in a fit of madness he had ditched her on their prom night to run off & join the army. As neither she nor anyone else had heard anything from him since then, her feelings about this are understandably rather mixed!

Blank visits his institutionalised Mum & the family home, which to his great distress is now an ‘Ultimart’, & eventually convinces Debi to go with him to the reunion. His reaquaintances with his former schoolmates are very funny & even quite touching, & are sure to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been to one of those things.

Meanwhile various other assassins, chief of which is Blank’s rival Grocer (Ackroyd – brilliant as ever) are out to kill him. Their reasons are many & varied – mainly involving an ‘Assassin’s union’, secret Government operations & a dead dog (yes, really!). As you can probably guess, these are not the sort of things that are conducive to a successful High School reunion, & mayhem ensues.

‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ is extremely funny, full of deadpan, twisted humour – mainly from Cusack, but ably supported by Ackroyd & Arkin. I particularly liked the running gag of Blank’s response to the inevitable “what do you do for a living?” question: a completely matter-of-fact “professional killer”, which of course not one person takes seriously. I also loved the hilariously neurotic exchanges between Blank & his hounded shrink (Arkin), who ends every conversation with “Don’t kill anyone!” There’s also a lovely little story involving a pen…

The film is also a great action flick – it has some brilliantly choreographed & executed gunfight & hand-to-hand fight sequences – in fact some of the best I’ve ever seen. Cusack looks, or at least is made to look, like a pretty decent athlete himself. The finale is a real tour-de-force, & for me sums up the movie itself: a great gunfight, clever & hilariously funny.

This film is wonderful from start to finish – if you haven’t done so already, see it now!

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