Not to be confused with the 1967 noir-ish Lee Marvin crime classic (why use that title?!) Point Blank (À Bout Portant) must have undoubtedly caused a number of snobby French critics to bemoan the Americanisation of European cinema while they munched on their popcorn and genuinely had a fun time with this big, brash and pleasingly mainstream thriller.

The rugged and unmistakably Gallic Gilles Lellouche stars as Samuel, a male nurse-in-training who, one night during a shift at the hospital, disturbs an unwelcomed visitor in the intensive care ward who is intent on doing away with hospitalised fugitive Hugo (Roschdy Zem). The next morning Samuel is knocked unconscious by an intruder in the flat he shares with his pregnant wife (Spanish actress Elena Anaya) and awakes to discovered that not only has his loved one been kidnapped, but that he must get the patient he saved the night before out of hospital and to a rendezvous point in three hours, otherwise she will be killed.

Samuel immediately sets out on his desperate attempt to save his wife, but it’s a task fraught with danger and many complications as he’s constantly keep on his toes and forced to improvise as initial plans fall into disarray as a number of unforeseen obstacles get in this way, and all the while he also has to contend with the less than cooperative Hugo.

Like last month’s Little White Lies (which, incidentally, also featured Lelouche) Point Black is another French feature with designs on reaching a large international audience. It’s a fast-paced, plausibility-skimming euro-thriller with a Hollywood sensibility (its no surprise that director Fred Cavayé’s previous feature, Anything for Her, was recently remade for a US audience in the form of The Next Three Days). In all probability, some American studio is currently looking into how this feature can be primed for an English-language audience, and it’s easy to see why that would be the case.

It’s a simple premise which is mined for the maximum suspense, and key to the success of any decent thriller, the stakes are extremely high. A fine performance from lead Lellouche also helps, and you really root for him during his awful predicament, where his actions grow increasingly desperate in his quest to see the safe return of his wife. He doesn’t know if anything he’s doing is ultimately going to get the best results, but that blind faith is crucial in winning the audience’s sympathy. Without giving too much away, the film also has a nice twist early on in which a strong character sympathetic to Samuel’s plight is introduced, only to be abruptly dispatched of soon after

As to be expected, the film has its fair share of plot holes and contrivances (which are usually a given with this kind of premise) but they do occasionally stretch reality a little too much and threaten to completely disengage the audience (that two heavily-wanted men could pass so freely around a police station is highly improbable). Another scene where incriminating CCVT footage is revealed and it’s blatantly clear that it’s been professionally lit and shot with a proper camera, only to be muddied up in post-production, is unintentionally humorous, but despite these lapses in believability, the film just about manages to keep it together to the thrilling climax.

A coda which sees’s one character getting his comeuppance feels completely unnecessary and awkward, but despite a couple of niggling flaws, this is still a taut, well-acted slice of hokum and fromage. It’s time for the multiplex crowd put aside their subtitle prejudices once again and make time for a film which is every bit as fun (and ridiculous) as those English-language efforts from across the pond.

Point Blank is released next Friday, 10th June.