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2012 | 92 min | Not rated | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 09 August, 2013
 31 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United Kingdom



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Screenshots from Blood Blu-ray

Blood Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 7, 2013

It’s strange that the producers of “Blood” have decided to use a six-part miniseries as the inspiration for this endeavor. Remakes are difficult enough to pull off gracefully, but reducing multiple episodes of narrative breadth and character arcs to a single 90 minute feature feels like dramatic suicide, forced to compact nuanced relationships and burn through conflict in a full sprint. Thankfully, there are powerful performances to cling to, watching the actors conjure full-blooded depictions of guilt to patch holes left behind in the script. There’s powerful work here to savor while the story searches for ways to define its direction, keeping “Blood” convincing when it should rightfully fall apart.

A detective still rattled by a case he botched years earlier, Joe (Paul Bettany) is working through the challenges of his life, trying to keep his marriage together and monitor his Alzheimer’s afflicted father, Lenny (Brian Cox), while sticking close to his brother, Chrissie (Stephen Graham), who’s also an investigator. When a teen girl turns up dead, the community is outraged, forcing Joe to work diligently to find the killer. Low on suspects, the cops discover born again pervert Buleigh (Ben Crompton) was monitoring the victim’s movements, all but guaranteeing his guilt. However, the evidence isn’t there, leaving Joe and Chrissie tremendously frustrated with the findings, watching Buleigh walk away from custody. Clinging to their instinct, the brothers catch Buleigh, taking him to a remote area where he’s accidentally killed. Reeling from the mistake, Joe demands all involved parties cover up the evidence, while former family friend (and stoic policeman) Robert (Mark Strong) develops an interest in his colleague’s erratic behavior.

Director Nick Murphy made a splash in 2011 with the release of “The Awakening,” a competent paranormal mystery that managed to survive formula due to the power of its performances. “Blood” is nearly identical in execution, lacking a rich sense of invention as it itemizes the stressful situations lunging after Joe all at once. 2004’s “Conviction” is the source material for “Blood,” and screenwriter Bill Gallagher doesn’t have an easy time of adaptation, tasked with streamlining relationships and critical events that once had plenty of wiggle room. There’s also a question of cliche, as the story traffics in false leads, haunted cops, and tests of honor -- topics already covered in a great number of murder mysteries. All Murphy can do is hang on for the ride, working to make the tale as emotionally explosive as possible, though it’s an uphill battle with all the rushing about.

There are relationships to explore here, histories to manage to make the characterizations as vivid as possible. The performances end up doing much of the heavy lifting, with Bettany and Graham capturing an empty shell appearance about these men that preserves an abyssal sense of shame and guilt key to the picture’s success. Joe is especially tormented by his impulsive actions against Buleigh, finding visions of the unsettling man seeping into his everyday life, while his paranoia about the disposal of blood-stained clothing and Chrissie’s wavering sense of family obligation hastens his disintegration, trying to manage his little brother’s moral quake from afar. Graham rarely is allowed to play this type of introspective character, making his performance special, revealing new sides to the actor. Bettany has rarely been better, accepting the challenge of soulful demolition with believable disgrace, making Joe’s descent into a defensive and hollow man fascinating, holding up his end of the movie while motivations are stumbled through.

There’s a spoiler in Lenny, whose mental erosion comes to complicate Joe’s cover-up, creating an interesting complexity to the cop’s sense of duty, unable to balance the reality of family ties and his desperation to put the Buleigh incident behind him. A subplot with Robert isn’t nearly as thoughtfully managed, deflating the character with a hazy backstory, burning through his reclusive behaviors without understanding what makes him tick.

Corners have been cut in “Blood,” finding certain relationships critical to the impact of the climax weakened by thin scripting. However, the core throb of remorse remains unbroken, making movements of pain and shards of psychosis sufficiently traumatic. The screenplay can’t always link the characters in a profound manner, but “Blood” has genuine ache emerging from gifted actors, and it’s enough to forgive most of its filmmaking sins.

Starring: Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, Brian Cox, Stephen Graham, Zoe Tapper, Ben Crompton
Director: Nick Murphy

» See full cast & crew

Blood, Forum Discussions

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True Blood (Season 4: June 26 2011) 1495 Sep 25, 2013
Watched THERE WILL BE BLOOD 125 Jan 30, 2010

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