Directed by Nick Murphy
Fast-food restaurants often describe a sandwich as “new” just because it features a different combination of ingredients everybody’s seen before—technically new, but wholly unoriginal. This British movie’s the cinematic equivalent of that: novel enough that it isn’t a direct retread of other films about morally bankrupt cops, but so familiar it seems like something you must’ve seen before at some point. It’s hard not to enumerate the influences while you’re watching it. There’s a victim who is guilty of something, but perhaps not what he was punished for (Mystic River); police-officer sons attempting to live up to the stature of their police-officer father (L.A. Confidential, among others); and a cop who commits an impulsive act he must then investigate himself (Insomnia, which Blood’s desolate setting also recalls).
Blood begins with the murder of a young girl and a likely suspect, out of whom sibling-officers Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham are happy to beat a confession. But the pair are unable to deal with the consequences when their “enhanced interrogation” goes too far, especially when their case against him proves circumstantial. At this point, you could easily imagine an American version of the film becoming a series of coverups that pit brother against brother. (That wouldn’t be bad.)
But Blood is more concerned with emotions than actions, and while that sounds like a welcome reprieve from films that brush off the impact violence has on those who commit it, it manifests itself here as simple brooding. Granted, it's well-performed brooding (the supporting cast includes Mark Strong and Brian Cox, who again proves any film is improved by his presence in it), but you yearn for the characters to do something, anything, unexpected.
By dint of its craft and performances, Blood works in the same way fast food is serviceable while you’re eating it, then forgotten the minute it’s over. As a foreign import, even an English-language genre one, it will likely be confined to art houses and independent theaters, but make no mistake: there’s nothing artistic or independent about it.
Opens August 9