FAVE ACTION FILM – Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
In discussing my previous selection of Pulp Fiction as my fave Crime flick, I ruminated about the use of the antihero in film. Well, here’s another film that many of us love where we find ourselves rooting for the bad guy. In the case of Grosse Pointe Blank, it is actor John Cusack in his lead role as Martin Blank, a freelance professional hitman. Given that we all like the characters Cusack plays, he can’t be all that evil now, can he? Aside from killing people for a living, he just seems so otherwise likable and normal.
Come on and admit it! You felt sorry for him in that being a paid-for-hire assassin was such a stressful occupation. And in that action-packed violent ending scene, you were pulling for him to take down and kill his nemesis, a fellow hired gun named Grocer played by Dan Aykroyd. These two were at odds over Martin not wanting to join the “hitman union” Grocer was forming.
Fascination with this flick is further driven by the behind-the-scenes look at Blank’s business. We see Marcella, his administrative assistant, played by his real-life sister Joan, making travel reservations to schedule his hits, and buying ammunition. Just normal everyday stuff. At some point, I’m sure many viewers ignored the brutality of it all and saw this as a lucrative and glamorous profession!
The normalization of this diabolical profession gets even weirder. We see Blank’s crisis of conscience further exposed when he reluctantly decides to attend his ten-year high school reunion, in of course, Grosse Point, MI. It’s funny stuff when people ask Martin what he does for a living and he tells them the truth!
While back home, he tracks down his high school sweetheart Debi, played by Minnie Driver. She also turns out to be the connection to the uncanny coincidence that drives the movie to its conclusion. (I’ll keep that one as quiet as the silencer on Martin’s gun.)
It also needs to be said, that while a great exciting movie, Grosse Pointe Blank also boasts a killer and plentiful soundtrack of songs from its period setting in the 80s. (Made easier since Debi works as a radio DJ operating out of a storefront window.) Its CD release was so well received, that they even put out a More Music from the Film follow-up release which still left another CDs worth of songs that were heard in the film. There are almost as many great songs as there are bullets fired in the action-packed final shootout scene.
Grosse Pointe Blank is clever, funny and as the category requires, plenty full of action. It also gets lovey-dovey at the end. Like me, you have probably seen it on television a dozen times, but like I feel while writing this, I am always ready to see it once more. Oh yeah, they even get to blow up a convenience store!