There may be people who disregard the John Cusack performance in Grosse Pointe Blank – who think he isn’t really acting. But the performance is one of the reasons the movie works so well. And in his vulnerability, he opens the way for Grosse Pointe Blank to be more than simply a violent, action, comedy with thriller elements. It’s odd mixture of tone and personalities are handled with care by director George Armitage, this film representing his finest work to date. Grosse Pointe Blank is one of the 1997’s best and most peculiar mainstream releases.
Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional killer with ties to various government shadow agencies. He’s going on 28 years old and his ten-year high-school reunion is coming up in a few days. Martin’s conflicted about attending the event because he will come face to face with Debi (Minnie Driver), the girl he stood up on prom night. His long-suffering therapist (Alan Arkin) suggest that making amends to the jilted former flame will be good for Martin’s dark temperament.
After a snafu on a hit Martin’s employers request his skill in terminating another mark. This target lies close enough to be able to attend the reunion and accomplish the mission within a weekends’ time. So, the contract killer heads back to small town Michigan to confront assassins, childhood friends, and angry ex-girlfriends. Meanwhile, a competing hitman (Dan Aykroyd) is competing for the same contract and is working with the F.B.I. to set-up Blank on his next assignment.
Cusack’s go-to screenwriting team has concocted another rare gem of a movie. Using the star of 1980’s teen angst film and the associated baggage that comes with being a teen idol sensation works in the clever film’s favor. Cusack is knowingly revisiting the type of movie he would have headline ten years earlier, except this time with a bit of an action twist. Director George Armitage’s quirky filmmaking sensibilities have typically left me unimpressed, but Grosse Pointe Blank represents the ideal pairing of director, script, and star for an utterly entertaining often hysterical offbeat high-school reunion tale.
Director: George Armitage
Stars: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd