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Point of No Return(1993)
She is society's worst nightmare, an antisocial misfit convicted of murder and sentenced to die. But a covert government agency may be able to transform her into a sleek, cool-as-ice assassin. Bridget Fonda ('Single White Female', 'Jackie Brown') stars as Maggie in this thriller directed by John Badham ('WarGames', 'Stakeout'). Dressed to kill, trained to survive, shes set loose in a deadly world where unexpected romance complicates things even more. Gabriel Byrne, Dermot Mulroney, Anne Bancroft and Harvey Keitel also star.
For more about Point of No Return and the Point of No Return Blu-ray release, see Point of No Return Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 20, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: John Badham
Writers: Robert Getchell, Alexandra Seros
Starring: Bridget Fonda, Gabriel Byrne, Dermot Mulroney, Miguel Ferrer, Anne Bancroft, Olivia d'Abo
» See full cast & crew
Point of No Return Blu-ray Review
An obscure actioner gets a bargain-priced Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 20, 2009
Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita may have divided international audiences and critics when it first arrived on the scene in 1990, but it's since been recognized as a film ahead of its time; a rare, character-driven action-thriller that offers compelling performances, unsettling intensity, and an emotionally vulnerable heroine struggling to satisfy the demands of two separate lives. It remains a unique, thought-provoking study of identity, duty, morality, and self-realization that continues to provoke modern viewers and earn new converts. But as often as I've revisited Nikita over the years, I've never had the chance to sample its poorly-received American adaptation, Point of No Return. Ah well, I suppose there's no time like the present...
When a volatile junkie named Maggie Hayword (Bridget Fonda) kills a police officer in the wake of a botched drugstore robbery, she's quickly arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Never mind the number of years it would take to carry out such a punishment in the US, she soon finds herself strapped in a chair with a needle in her arm. However, after being pronounced dead, Maggie suddenly finds herself in a strange facility where a smooth-talking suit (Gabriel Byrne) informs her that she's been spared. He explains that in exchange for... well, the opportunity to continue breathing, Maggie will be trained as a government assassin and kill at her handlers' command. As the weeks turn to months, she learns how to use various firearms, hand-to-hand combat techniques, the art of seduction, and a variety of other skills. No longer the brash deviant that entered the facility, Maggie emerges as a dangerous but damaged young woman ready to receive her first assignment. Delivering a successful kill, she's soon transferred to Southern California, given a house, a cover story, and a new set of instructions.
Unfortunately, Point of No Return pales in comparison to its French forebearer. While director John Badham (Short Circuit, Wargames) takes a risky step away from softer fare in his canon to reproduce Besson's ultra-violent requiem with faithful fervor, he often plays it too safe; attempting to craft a carbon copy of Nikita without injecting anything fresh into the mix. In fact, long before Maggie receives her first assignment, the film exhibits all the traits of a bland remake failing to capture the taut tone and chemistry of the original. Fonda lacks the hardened determination and demure frailty Anne Parillaud first brought to the role, running through the motions for more than an hour before legitimately sinking her teeth into the film's third act. And Byrne -- much as I love his work -- injects little life into his character's increasingly conflicting emotions, producing a weak and predictable sap that never seems as fully realized (or as wounded) as Tchéky Karyo's Bob. More distressingly, Return's admittedly engrossing assassination sequences feel completely disjointed from its interpersonal drama. Instead of fusing both aspects of the film into an unrelenting, cohesive whole, Badham gets lazy and tries to transplant Besson's eye for action into his own stocky framework.
Even so, filmfans immune to early '90s cheese will stumble across quite a few memorable moments that, at the very least, help Point of No Return establish itself as a passable actioner. A shocking gift at a restaurant leads to a stirring scramble, a New Orleans assassination will leave the film's most vocal detractors breathless, and a series of scenes with Harvey Keitel -- stepping in for Jean Reno as a particularly vicious cleaner -- steal the entire show. Anyone focused on the film's dramatic wares will eventually be disappointed (either by the cast's straight-forward performances or Badham's directorial shortcomings), but its persistent firefights, intrigue, and 'splosions manage to keep things moving. If you haven't seen La Femme Nikita, spend your time and money wisely, invest in Sony's Blu-ray release of Besson's original, and skip this stilted adaptation. But if you must tempt fate, rest easy knowing that Warner's low price point will take most of the sting out of purchasing this comparatively dull remake.
Point of No Return Blu-ray, Video Quality
Once you get past its pervasive, depth-sapping grain field, Point of No Return's 1080p/VC-1 transfer represents another solid (albeit unremarkable) catalog release from Warner. It's clear that the film's source hasn't been properly remastered in quite some time -- white and black specks, print scratches, intermittent contrast wavering, and distracting edge enhancement all make their presence known -- but foreground definition and dimensionality rarely suffer as a result. From scene to scene, fine detail remains in tact, textures are well defined, and shadow visibility is revealing. More importantly, the image boasts a healthy appearance bolstered by inviting colors, warm primaries, and altogether impressive saturation leveling. A few problematic nighttime sequences struggle to resolve the deepest blacks and retain the clarity of every object, but the cleanliness of the technical transfer tends to make up for these and other print-related mishaps. I didn't detect any significant artifacting or banding, crush was never an issue, and Warner resisted the urge to slather the transfer with digital noise reduction (DNR). Considering Point of No Return's age and obscurity, fans will be relieved to see that it looks as good as it does.
Point of No Return Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Video quality aside, Warner gives Point of No Return its due diligence with an unexpectedly powerful Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. Dialogue is crisp, nicely prioritized, and perfectly balanced throughout the soundfield. A few words are lost in the heat of the film's more chaotic gun battles, but the overly subdued lines are never of any importance. Not only are the rear speakers brimming with activity -- injecting convincing ambient effects into crowded spaces, enhancing the acoustics of almost every interior space, and increasing the immersion of the track with acute directionality -- the LFE channel adds substantial heft to everything it supports. Gunfire aggressively erupts from every direction, a third act car chase leads to a variety of sonic fireworks, and a granddaddy of an explosion will send a welcome shockwave through your home theater. Moreover, the film's soundtrack has been restored with exacting dynamics and clarity. The synthesized score is sharp and stable, Nina Simone's songs sound as if they were recorded yesterday, and dense bass beats resonate to great effect. While the tonal consistency of a few lesser sound effects reveal the film's age, I couldn't have been happier with the integrity and impact of Warner's lossless catalog remix.
Point of No Return Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like the previously released DVD, the Blu-ray edition of Point of No Return doesn't include any special features save a poorly-encoded theatrical trailer.
Point of No Return Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Point of No Return will strike the La Femme Nikita faithful among you as a cheap and derivative imitation; yet more evidence of Hollywood's penchant for stripping the soul out of provocative foreign releases. Even though a handful of action junkies will enjoy its rousing assassination sequences, it would be a shame to waste your time and money here when Sony has already released Luc Besson's original on Blu-ray. Ah well, at least Point of No Return has earned a fitting upgrade. The disc may not include any special features, but it does offer an above average catalog video transfer and a striking TrueHD audio track. If you can't resist your own morbid curiosity, take advantage of Warner's low price point. Otherwise, get acquainted with La Femme Nikita and experience the story at its best.
Point of No Return: Other Editions
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Point of No Return Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - April 7th - April 7, 2009
When making a film about a controversial subject, it is often difficult to represent the subject matter in a way that will appeal to general audiences. Tread too lightly on the subject, and the message can be lost or misunderstood; tread too heavy, and the message ...
• Warner Specs More April 7th Releases - January 27, 2009
Warner Home Video has revealed the technical specs and special features for six more of the ten titles set to be released on April 7th. While some of you may be disappointed with the lack of extras on these releases (I'm not), you have welcome the fact that all ...
• Warner Announces 10 Blu-rays for April 7th - December 18, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring 10 of their most popular catalog titles to Blu-ray on April 7th. These titles include 'The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition', 'American History X', 'Final Destination', 'Point of No Return', 'Taking Lives: ...
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