Review by Sean Boelman
As a starring vehicle for Oscar-winning actor Tom Berenger, writer-director John Barr’s directorial debut Blood and Money is sufficient, reminding viewers why the actor was so beloved in the first place. But as a film in its own right, this is an unimpressive and mundane thriller because of its dull script.
The movie follows a retired hunter who is on a trip in the woods when he accidentally shoots a woman carrying a large amount of money, causing him to become the target of a band of ruthless criminals. As is the case with most films that follow this cat-and-mouse storyline, it’s a thinly-veiled exploration of ethics and morality, and Barr fails to add anything to the discussion that hasn’t been said before.
The slow pacing of the script is likely what will cause audiences to tune out of the movie. Even though the runtime is under an hour and a half long, it takes a solid thirty minutes for there to be any conflict that is of legitimate interest. In the last hour, there are sporadic bursts of excitement, but they are far too short to be impactful.
One of the most disappointing things about the film is that its action sequences are entirely underwhelming. Unlike most other movies that feature a former star trying to prove that they have relevance enough for a second life, there’s nothing creative here. The only memorable thing about the action is a recurring gag about the protagonist continuing to run out of bullets.
Yet Barr’s script does not have the character development to compensate for the lack of cinematic conflict. The motivation for the characters, both protagonist and antagonist, are weak and conventional. And while the first act of the film is spent with the protagonist interacting with other characters in an attempt to make him feel more relatable, these scenes are so generic that they don't work.
Berenger is certainly a very talented actor, and it is his performance that keeps this ship afloat. Although the role isn’t too different from the type that is usually given to aging actors, it’s moderately demanding for the bunch. His delivery of the dialogue is particularly impressive, giving the movie a surprisingly natural feel.
On a technical level, Barr’s film is also not up to par. The movie takes place completely in the woods of northern Maine, and yet there is no spatial geography to the action at all. With a film that is confined to limited locations such as this, it is important to create a feeling of immersion for the viewer.
Blood and Money is a watchable thriller thanks to a solid performance from Tom Berenger, but it’s mostly forgettable. The actors’ fans would be better off watching some of the more entertaining flicks from when he was in his heyday.
Blood and Money hits VOD on May 15.