out of Five
Running time: 90
Blood is a well made, atmospheric British thriller with terrific performances from a superb cast, though it's a little undermined by some casting issues and the script falters towards the end.
What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Murphy, Blood is adapted from the 2004 TV series Conviction and stars Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham as detective brothers Joe and Chrissie Fairburn, whose father Lenny (Brian Cox) was once a feared police chief prone to dishing out his own brand of justice, but is now retired and bordering on dementia. When a 12 year old girl is found brutally murdered, the brothers identify creepy ex-con Jason Buleigh (Ben Crompton) as the culprit, but when a drink-fuelled attempt at exacting a confession goes horribly wrong, the pair find themselves tasked with investigating a crime they themselves have committed.
Murphy has assembled a terrific cast of British stalwarts and the performances are predictably superb, particularly the central trio of Bettany, Graham and Cox, though there's equally strong support from rising character actor Ben Crompton (you'll know his face) and the reliably excellent Mark Strong as a straight-edged colleague of Joe and Chrissie's who begins to suspect something is wrong. There's even a surprise and welcome appearance by Adrian Edmondson (very rarely seen on screen these days) as a mentally troubled witness, though Zoe Tapper and Natasha Little are both rather wasted as Chrissie and Joe's respective partners.
The film is beautifully shot, with George Richmond's rain-drenched cinematography making strong use of the striking coastal locations (actually the Wirral, off the coast of Liverpool, though the area is not named in the film). Murphy also establishes a suitably grim, claustrophobic atmosphere within the small coastal community that works well.
The main problem with the film is that Bettany (blonde, Londoner), Graham (brown-haired, Liverpudlian) and Cox (grey-haired, Scottish) are the least convincing family unit ever committed to celluloid, something which is further compounded by having them all adopt London-ish accents, despite the coastal location. In addition, the plot has aspirations towards a Crime and Punishment sort of vibe (both cops being eaten up by their own guilt etc) but those elements aren't properly exploited, so the latter half of the film lacks emotional impact.
On top of that, Strong's character is a little underwritten, with the result that you're never quite sure what or who you're supposed to be rooting for, which ultimately becomes frustrating.
Blood is a well made British thriller that's worth seeing for its superb performances, though the script fails to adequately exploit its promising set-up and ultimately lacks both dramatic and emotional impact.