Sometimes it’s all right if a film is formulaic, as long as the acting and directing makes up for it. Such is the case with Blood, a British cop thriller helmed by Nick Murphy, who directed the pretty decent 2011 ghost story, The Awakening. Blood tells the story of two cop brothers haunted by their father’s legacy of violent law enforcement, and the less-than desirable standards we sometimes accept because of love. The story follows the beats of a typical corrupt cop flick, but is elevated to heights of grandeur by the incredible cast and Murphy’s direction.
Brothers Joe (Paul Bettany) and Chrissie (Stephen Graham) Fairburn are put in charge of the case of a young girl who was found savagely murdered in a small seaside town. The community is rocked by the murder and it’s easy to see this isn’t the type of town where dead bodies are common unless they’re getting wheeled out of retirement homes. The pressure is on Joe and Chrissie to quickly close the case, so they arrest the most likely suspect: sex offender Jason Buleigh (Ben Crompton), who was often seen following the girl. He’s a creep extraordinaire.
Once the bureaucracy of bullshit lawyers and apprehensive judges butt their way in, the brothers’ case is torn apart. One drunken night soon after Jason’s release, Joe and Chrissie come off the rails and drag Jason out to the “islands” – tidelands on the coast that have formed small, muddy patches of land. It was on these secluded islands that their infamous cop father (Brian Cox) used to bring suspects to beat confessions out of them. The brothers have never taken this extreme (and illegal) course of action before and it does not go as planned.
Bettany and Graham are a terrific pair on screen. Before the plot takes its many dark turns, the two actors exude a natural, playful chemistry. Bettany plays the family man and pseudo-leader, while Graham is the bachelor with a girlfriend who’s growing tired of his unwillingness to commit. After their trip to the islands, the two actors deliver what’s best summed up as “powerhouse” performances. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s no surprise coming from Graham, who I’ve loved since he played a horrifying skinhead in This Is England. Here he gives an ultimately heartbreaking performance that has got to be one of his greatest. Bettany too brings the dramatic heat, but as the one being slowly consumed by overwhelming guilt. It’s a guilt that leaves him desperate for a way out, which in this film is not a good thing. As another cop states to him, getting away with murder is worse than getting caught because you have to live with that shit for the rest of your life.
From the first frame, Murphy immerses us in a gloomy atmosphere completely devoid of bright colors. It’s a palette that rejects any kind of faith and instead promotes hopelessness, which is beyond appropriate for the subject matter. Fans of corrupt cop thrillers or just desolate crime dramas in general will definitely want to buckle up for Blood.
I was given the DVD version to review. The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Top notch DVD quality all around.
NONE, which stinks.