9 out 0f 10
Release Date: 31st May 2013
Director: Nick Murphy (The Awakening)
Cast: Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Mark Strong, Ben Crompton, Natasha Little, Zoe Tapper, Naomi Battrick, Sandra Voe, Stuart McQuarrie, Patrick Hurd-Wood with Adrian Edmondson and Brian Cox
Writer: Bill Gallagher
Blood is an extremely well constructed, acted and paced drama. Its a lot more than a regulation police procedural because it contains that all too elusive element missing from a lot of British movies these days, a beating heart. A dynasty of police men; two brothers, Joe (PAUL BETTANY – GANGSTER NO. 1) and Chrissie (STEPHEN GRAHAM – THIS IS ENGLAND)and their retired father, Lenny (BRIAN COX – THE BOXER) hold vigil over a remote town on The Wirral (where nobody has a Liverpudlian accent). When a teenage girl is found murdered in a local playground all suspicion falls on local born again Christian and reformed pervert, Jason Bulegh (BEN CROMPTON – GAME OF THRONES). The past is ever present and the pressures to prevent history repeating itself push the brothers to perform an unthinkable act. With another equally competent yet aloof cop on the case, Seymour (MARK STRONG – WELCOME TO THE PUNCH) the sheer amount of guilt and confusion is destined to lead to some overdue pain and suffering. The overbearing presence of Joe and Chrissie’s alzheimer’s afflicted father Lenny will also lead to bottled up secrets being spilled.
Blood is a less who-dunn-it than a can-they-keep-quiet-forever. Some secrets are so terrible that they do need to be taken to the grave and yet in movie land, where life is cheap as a rule and murders go unsolved all the time, a single death on your hands weighs incredibly just like it would in plain old reality. Blood deals with the very real concerns of keeping tabs on your guilt, looking out for those who are complicit and keeping your sanity intact. In a very real way this tackles the trauma of trying to keep such horrific secrets buried from those you love and making them stay there for a very long time. The brothers make such a colossal but realistic mistake (spoilers are in the trailer) that you marvel at their stupidity, but their actions still ring true because the characters are so well drawn. Remarkably all of the actors deliver very convincing performances and in Paul Bettany‘s case this is a career best. The script convinces us that good people are capable of doing very bad things. It also let’s us decide whether or not (if they had have been right) would their actions still have been right? In keeping the past under wraps, only details break out in drunken conversations or half-remembered ramblings from Lenny. We are spared over literal flashbacks or an excess of voice over. The use of music is sparing so it’s left to the locations and Blood’s expert cinematographer to give us a sense of place. In finding Hilbrea Island and it’s two smaller companions out in the River Dee estuary and the sad and desolate promenades of coastal Merseyside, Blood has a winning trump card. A great sense of location is key to a mystery and these places certainly enhance the picture. It is peculiarly free of scousers though (no one in the cast has a regional accent).
Blood impressed me because it kept it’s nerve right the way to the end and never compromised it’s hand in favour of giving the audience an easy ride. Our main protagonists are going to burn in hell (much like Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart), their fates spelt out from the second they accomplished their atrocious deed. With some supernatural elements, Joe is haunted by a ghost / guilt manifested, that is the cherry on the cake. It’s a real shame that Blood only received a cursory release on UK cinemas because it leaves the majority of police films I’ve seen for dead in the plot, script and acting departments. I’d goes as far as saying it’s one of the best films ever to be set in Merseyside and there’s a fair bit of competition too (not recent however).
9 out of 10 – Thoroughly recommended, despite the generic and forgettable title.
See Joe Pesci II’s review below
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Paul Bettany: Avengers 2 (voice), Mortdecai, Transcendence, Iron Man 3 (voice), Avengers Assemble (voice), Priest (2011), Margin Call, The Tourist, Iron Man 2 (voice), Legion, Creation, The Young Victoria, Inkheart, The Secret Life Of Bees, Iron Man (voice), The Da Vinci Code, Firewall, Master and Commander- Far Side Of The World, Dogville, The Heart Of Me, A Beautiful Mind, A Knight’s Tale, Dead Babies, Gangster No.1, The Land Girls
- Stephen Graham: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Hyena, Boardwalk Empire (TV), Get Santa, Best Laid Plans (2012), This Is England 88 (TV), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Texas Killing Fields, The Season Of The Witch, London Boulevard, The Crew, This Is England 86 (TV), Awaydays, Public Enemies, This Is England, Doghouse, The Damned Utd, Inkheart, Goal, Snatch, Coronation Street (TV), Downtime
- Mark Strong: Grimsby, Kingsman – The Secret Service, The Imitation Game, Before I Go To Sleep, Welcome To The Punch, Zero Two Dark, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kick Ass, The Guard, John Carter, Black Gold, The Eagle, Robin Hood (2010), The Green Lantern, The Way Back, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Rock-N-Rolla, Body Of Lies, Young Victoria, Flashbacks Of a Fool, Sunshine (2007), Stardust, Scenes Of a Sexual Nature, Revolver, Syriana, The Long Firm (TV), Heartlands, The Martins, Elephant Juice, Fever Pitch, Hotel (2001), Our Friends In The North (TV), Captives
- Ben Crompton: Game Of Thrones (TV), Pramface (TV), 102 Dalmatians
- Natasha Little: Welcome To The Punch, The Boys Are Back, Mr Nobody, Another Life, Greenfingers, Kevin and Perry Go Large, This Life (TV), The Clandestine Marriage
- Zoe Tapper: Mr Selfridge (TV), Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, The Grind, Baseline, Survivors (TV), Stage Beauty
- Sandra Voe: The Winter Guest, Breaking The Waves
- Stuart McQuarrie: Hush
- Patrick Hurd-Wood: Solomon Kane
- Adrian Edmondson: The Comic Strip (TV), Holby City (TV), Guest House Paradiso, Bottom (TV), The Pope Must Die, Filty Rich & Catflap (TV), Eat The Rich, The Supergrass, The Young Ones (TV)
- Brian Cox: The Anomaly, Believe, Her (voice), Red 2, The Campaign, Coriolanus, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Veteran, Ironclad, Red, Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), The Escapist, The Water Horse, Zodiac, Red Eye, Match Point, The Bourne Supremacy, Troy, X Men 2, 25th Hour, Adaptation, The Ring, The Bourne Identity, Super Troopers, For The Love Of The Money, The Corruptor, Rushmore, Desperate Measures, The Boxer, Kiss The Girls, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Glimmer Man, Chain Reaction, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Iron Will, Hidden Agenda, Manhunter