The Brattle film calendar wonders how John Boorman could make a movie as good as Point Blank and then go on to make something as lousy as Zardoz. But come on: Boorman is all about the semi-surreal fractured narrative, and you can draw a clear line from one movie to the other.
Point Blank is a ruthless reinvention of the crime movie. The skeleton is pure pulp, adapted from a Donald Westlake book. Westlake has been writing unpretentious genre books for decades, so it’s a good base. But you’re not more than 10 minutes into the movie before the chronology starts shattering and lines start repeating and overlapping and you have to start wondering if it’s a sequence of events or Lee Marvin’s deathbed dream. Trippy stuff. Now I know where Soderbergh picked up the techniques he used in The Limey and Out of Sight.
Lee Marvin’s Walker is not a killer — he never actually kills anyone in the movie — but is rather the Angel of Death. His presence brings mortality with it. The Organization he fights is criminal in nature on the surface; beneath that, though, it’s a metaphor for any corporation. The leaders of the Organization live in offices and well-appointed homes with swimming pools. Walker, for all his lack of sixties trappings, is the revolutionary trying to bring down the state — not because of principles or ideals. Just for revenge.
Given the ending, given that Walker’s simply being manipulated in what amounts to a series of layoffs, I think the implications of rebellion aren’t imagined. There’s this nihilistic implication that even the rebels are being used by the (pardon my cliche) Man. Walker’s success is as empty as his life.
And come on: he travels from San Francisco, where he was happy, to Los Angeles, where corruption lives. If that’s not the sixties in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.