(trailer here), which opens in New York this Friday.
In the tradition of Dr. Richard Kimball, Samuel Pierret is the wrong man—an innocent man. He also happens to be a nurse’s assistant with a very pregnant wife. After saving the life of a thug convalescing in his hospital, Pierret receives a grim ultimatum—either he delivers his shady patient, stone-cold safecracker Hugo Sartet, or he will never see his wife alive again. Pulled into a wider criminal conspiracy, Pierret learns Sartet’s kidnapping accomplice is the least of his concerns. A battalion of crooked cops are out to them both deader than dead.
There is something refreshingly old school about Blank. Rather than try to dazzle viewers with huge special effects spectacles or outlandish stunt work, Cavayé earns his thrills the honest way, forcing his characters to jump from ledges, bluff their way out of tight spots, and run for their lives through the streets of Paris.
A versatile actor, Lellouche makes a credible wrongly accused everyman in the Hitchcockian tradition. However, the film really belongs to Roschdy Zem as Sartet. Those who bemoan the paucity of masculine movies stars need to check out his filmography. Quietly intense and smoothly charismatic, Zem makes a killer noir anti-hero, occupying that rare cinematic zone of true moral ambiguity. As Sartet, he exemplifies screen presence. Overdue for international stardom after memorable appearances in films like Outside the Law, 36th Precinct, and The Girl from Monaco, Blank should finally settle the matter.
Cavayé also earns breakout props for Blank. Tightly paced and sharply executed, it is quite an agile thriller, even showing the occasional flash of mordant wit. He also demonstrates a legitimate talent for choreographing near riot scenes, deftly balancing the mass chaos with the need to show the characters’ action with clarity.