Starring: Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham
You may like this if you liked: Insomnia (Christopher Nolan, 2002), Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003), Shadow Dancer (James Marsh, 2012)
Joe and Chrissie Fairburn (Bettany and Graham) are two police detectives constantly living in the shadow of their father (Brian Cox) who was a brutal but highly decorated police chief. After a young girl is brutally murdered the two are desperate to uncover the identity of the killer. Joe is still haunted by past mistake he made involving lost evidence which led to a suspect being freed and committing murder. They believe they have found the culprit in local man with a past criminal record Jason Buleigh (Ben Crmpton) but do not have enough evidence to keep him in custody. Feeling humiliated and desperate to make Buleigh confess the two of them resort to extremes which have tragic consequences. Now with blood on their hands, the two of them are forced to also investigate a crime they themselves committed as well as still trying to solve the original crime.
Blood is written by Bill Gallagher and based on his 2004 TV series Conviction and though the effort he has made converting this into a 90 minute drama is commendable it also provides him with immediate limitations and restrictions. I know I am not the first to say this, but there is so much to fit into this restricted running time that everything rushes by so quickly when time was really needed to develop these very troubled characters. The script itself is still a strong one with subtext and body language used very effectively but if we are to care about these characters (which do have compelling individual stories) then we need to be given longer with them. This is especially the case as this is not really a crime thriller as such, more a psychological drama on the human condition. The whole police and murder element plays more of a narrative tool of telling a story that contains themes of family, guilt, obsession and how we can be our own worst enemy. I can imagine they simply did not have the budget to extend the running time and were worried that a longer running time may put people off, but for me even an extra twenty minutes of detailed character development would have made a difference.
To say this film does not work would be doing it an injustice as it is a very watchable and very well made thriller. It does feel cinematic visually and there is a real genuine atmosphere of desperate misery to the whole thing with the excellent cast all giving committed turns. All characters involved do have genuine depth but are simply not given the time needed. There are some huge moments from the past that have had deep effects on the personalities of these characters but they are mentioned as quickly as possible like they are an inconvenience which just does not allow us to feel the empathy for these characters that we probably should. This means that at first we find it hard to care for Bettany’s character and cannot sympathise with his extreme actions. As the plot develops we do find ourselves caring for them and empathising with their situation and the film creates a tense atmosphere that genuinely tightens the noose around the neck of all these characters.
Overall, Blood is a well written, acted and made film that is both compelling and watchable. However for a film that should be a character study that is more of a slow burner, it develops at such a breakneck speed which only serves as a constant reminder as to why the TV series was probably better and more fulfilling.