Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 23, 2020)
Still best-known for 1980s hits like Platoon and Major League, Tom Berengerís career largely faltered when he moved to the 1990s. Outside of an occasional A-list project like 2010ís Inception, Berenger mainly finds himself in low-budget direct-to-video fare like Sniper: Assassinís End.
Thatís where we find Berenger for 2020ís Blood and Money, though at least this project allows the actor to take the lead role. Here Berenger plays Jim Reed, a retired military veteran.
On a hunting trip in northern Maine, Jim discovers a woman on the brink of death. She dies right after Jim locates her, and he finds a duffel bag of cash near her.
Inevitably, the perpetrators of that crime come in search of their money. This sets up a cat and mouse battle between Jim and the criminals.
As I relate more often than Iíd like to admit, good movies rely more on execution than anything else. A film with a well-worn plot can easily top one with greater originality if those involved bring skill and verve to the proceedings.
Thus even though Blood comes with a plot that screams ďformulaicĒ, it doesnít seem doomed to failure. In the right hands, this kind of battle for survival could work.
Unfortunately, Blood seems utterly determined to squander whatever potential positives it might boast, at least partly due to a narrative that proceeds at a snailís pace. Based on my synopsis, one might anticipate that Jim locates the woman and cash quickly.
One would anticipate incorrectly. Jim doesnít find the woman until about half an hour into this 89-minute affair, and the criminals donít appear until almost halfway into the tale.
Blood uses that opening half-hour or so set up Jim and the circumstances, but it doesnít utilize that time well. The information packed into that 30 minutes doesnít need nearly that long to develop, as a better-made film could relate the material in a more efficient manner.
As such, Blood feels slow and bloated from the start, and it doesnít really improve even when it should become more dynamic. Like I mentioned, it takes almost 15 minutes after Jim first discovers the woman for the movie to involve the criminals.
Blood attempts some tension here, mainly because of Jimís reaction to these events. Jim heads back to town and tries to avoid the issue entirely for reasons that donít seem clear.
I guess Jim behaves as he does because he believes he accidentally shot the woman, but again, the film fails to make this obvious. This seems like the only logical explanation for Jimís panicked behavior Ė and it still doesnít seem sensible.
Granted, I can understand that if you shoot someone by accident, youíd regret it. Given the circumstances, the authorities would clearly recognize the event as uninintentional, so Jimís worried attempts to hide his discovery seems like a phony movie choice more than something thatíd fit real life.
Matters donít improve from there, as Jimís behavior continues to perplex Ė with more fatal repercussions. To avoid spoilers, I wonít get into these, but Jim acts in ways that persistently make matters worse, all just so the movie finds awkward ways to churn out action scenes.
Throw in more than a little ham-fisted exposition and Blood offers a poorly told tale, one that never clicks into any kind of groove. This seems like a shame, as it comes with some potential positives.
Jim offers an intriguing take on this kind of character. Normally a movie such as this would make its lead an ultra-confident aging badass who methodically takes down his foes.
Instead, Jim is an apparently terminally ill recovering alcoholic still haunted by the death of his daughter in a car crash. A loner with a mix of personal issues, he seems anxious and uncertain as he deals with events.
On the surface, that should make Jim a compelling character, but the underwritten script leaves him with little room to really develop. Berenger does his best with the role and submerges any macho instincts along the way, but he canít overcome the inherent flaws from the screenplay.
All of this feels like a shame, as Blood could give us a good twist on the genre. Instead, it becomes a slow, dull journey to nowhere.